Days 1-3: Los Angeles
Welcome to California! Los Angeles is a city like no other, diverse, diverse, diverse! This becomes evident in the three days you’ll spend here, taking time for a Hollywood studio tour on one day and surf lessons in Santa Monica on another! Your free time allows for visiting parks, neighborhoods, museums, shops, beaches, parks, and iconic sites – the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Rodeo Drive.
Days 4-6: Pacific Coast and Monterey Bay
Pack your bags and hit the road! Travel north along the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway, from Los Angeles to Monterey Bay. We’ll offer up lots of “must stops” along the day – beaches, coastal restaurants, Big Sur, a cookie factory, and Hearst Castle. Monterey Bay is packed with beauty. One day will be set for a privately guided day of tidepooling with a marine biologist and visiting the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, and another takes you kayaking through Pacific Ocean kelp forests. Free time is reserved for hiking in Los Lobos State Park, walking the Carmel City Beach with the locals at sunset, and driving the 17-Mile-Road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. You’ll love it!
Days 7-9: Yosemite National Park
Head inland to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and naturalist John Muir’s and photographer Ansel Adams’ favorite, Yosemite National Park. This park is packed with beauty, with granite towers, tumbling waterfalls, the rambling Merced River, flower-filled meadows, countless hiking trails, and giant sequoias. Spend one day with a local naturalist guide who will lead you along your trail of choice – perhaps the 8.5-mile Panorama Trail, for views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, and Yosemite Valley?
Days 10-11: San Francisco
All this wilderness! City life beckons, but San Francisco does an awesome job of combining urban and nature, which is why it is considered so “livable.” It’s easy to get to know the distinctive neighborhoods in San Francisco by foot and trolley or bus. Also, consider a self-guided (or guided) bike ride, through the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Have lunch on the water, then catch a ferry ride back (with an entire end of the ship appointed with bike racks) to the Ferry Building. From there, return your bikes via the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. (Don’t miss the sea lions at Pier 39!)
Days 12-14: Sonoma
Last, but so not least, the Sonoma Wine Region. Less than one hour north of San Francisco, Sonoma is laid back and civilized – a small town with a town square, and a valley with country roads, 17 appellations, and over 400 wineries. Sample wines from the Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, Chalk Hill, Carneros-Sonoma, and more. Eat delicious meals of locally-sourced ingredients. Yum.
Day 15: Fly Home from San Francisco
On that note… (floral note, spicy note, mineral note, vegetal note), this well-balanced, robust trip that had you swirling around California comes to an end. Fly Home from San Francisco!
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