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Northern California 2015

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Big Sur coastline in California, USAFisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California, USAPier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, USAGolden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USAYosemite National Park in California, USA
Big Sur coastline in California, USA
Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California, USA
Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, USA
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA
Yosemite National Park in California, USA
  • Duration: 8 Days
  • Rating: Read Reviews
  • Brochure: USA and Canada 2015
  • Style: Regional
  • Description: A showcase of California's many sides: the culture of San Francisco, the wines of Sonoma and Napa, the coastal retreat of Monterey and the beauty of Big Sur, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. It's Insider moments like… stepping inside the café owned by Jordan Champagne and her husband Todd, who've been running Happy Girl Kitchen for a decade. Their ‘open kitchen' policy means you can see your meal being transformed from fresh and local organic produce. Keeping the traditions of Monterey's canning community alive, you could even taste of some of the preserves, chutneys or pickled vegetables they produce. It's also witnessing the region's farming lifestyle first hand as you meet an expert in Salinas Valley's agricultural industry.

Guest Experiences

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Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1


    Welcome to San Francisco, the City by the Bay! After checking in at your hotel, enjoy a real San Francisco treat and dive into exploring on your own at nearby Pier 39, the famed marketplace filled with shops, attractions and street performers angling for oohs, aahs and cheers from the crowd. Be sure to visit the “Sea Lebrities,” the pier's resident sea lion population. At 6 p.m., gather at a local restaurant with your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception.

    Meal(s): (Welcome Reception)

    Hotel: Hyatt Regency San Francisco

    Hotels are subject to change.
  • Day 2


    As the mist rises over the bay, the great city of San Francisco stands before you. Embark on a morning exploration that takes you from Fisherman's Wharf to fashionable Union Square. Explore a Unique Insight, the Cable Car Museum, a celebration of San Francisco's rail transit history, focused on exploring the positive impacts streetcars and cable cars have made on the quality of urban life in this great city. There's a story around every corner of San Francisco, and you have some time this afternoon to follow your own path before gathering for a guided tour of the oldest Chinatown in the United States. Sample fortune cookies, a Local Speciality, and then celebrate your discoveries at a sumptuous Chinese banquet Regional Meal at a local restaurant.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast / Regional Meal)

  • Day 3


    Napa Valley's sun-dappled fields, lush vineyards and fragrant flowers provide an idyllic backdrop for your next adventure. After checking in at your hotel, board the Napa Valley Wine Train's lovingly restored Pullman cars for a taste of the golden age of rail travel. Journey through the sparkling sunlight of a Napa afternoon as you indulge in a gourmet Regional Meal and wine tasting. This afternoon, enjoy free time in Sonoma Square.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast / Regional Meal)

    Hotel: Embassy Suites Napa Valley

    Hotels are subject to change.
  • Day 4


    Rise early this morning for an unforgettable optional hot air balloon ride over the lush Napa Valley. Then visit the California State Railroad Museum. Tour the 21 meticulously restored locomotives, train cars and numerous exhibits illustrating how railroads shaped people's lives, the economy, and the unique culture of California and the West. Then, travel from the fertile Sacramento River valley to the alpine splendour of Lake Tahoe, its clear blue waters surrounded by evergreen pines and rocky outcrops. If you like, enjoy an optional sunset dinner cruise on the lake as you savour the magnificent views and magical mountain light.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast)

    Hotel: Lake Tahoe Resorts Hotel at Heavenly

    Hotels are subject to change.
  • Day 5


    Lying just east of the Sierra Nevada, Mono Lake feels like another world. Its salty waters and limestone formations called “tufa towers” were once part of a great inland lake that covered most of Nevada and Utah. Currently, migrating birds use Mono Lake as a resting point on their journeys to South America or tropical seas. Snow-covered for much of the year, stunning Tioga Pass is the perfect entry point to the Golden State's most famous national park, Yosemite. Descend from the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Yosemite Valley, passing the misty splendour of Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls. Gaze in wonder at the granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast)

    Hotel: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

    Hotels are subject to change.
  • Day 6


    Head west today into Salinas Valley and join an agricultural education tour to learn about fruit and vegetable production and advanced farming techniques of the region with a Local Expert. Then cruise scenic 17-Mile Drive past the famed Lone Cypress Tree and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Travel north to Monterey for a Be My Guest experience. Your hosts share their knowledge and love of food with you this evening as you dine on a meal of the freshest, locally sourced produce of the region. Participate in the creation of your meal, an experience meant to empower you as a diner with an understanding of the farm-to-table experience.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast / Be My Guest Dining)

    Hotel: The Portola Hotel and Spa at Monterey Bay

    Hotels are subject to change.
  • Day 7


    Experience the glories of the California coast on your day trip to Big Sur, but first stopping in the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Browse the many shops, wander down to the water's edge or enjoy a cappuccino at a cafe. Then on to hidden coves with sandy beaches, towering redwoods touching the sky and dolphins and sea lions cavorting in the clear waters—Big Sur's natural majesty will take your breath away. Return to Monterey for a tour of Cannery Row, made famous by native Californian John Steinbeck. Enjoy some free time at lively, picturesque Fisherman's Wharf, home to restaurants, shops and vibrant street life, or join an optional tour to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tonight, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a festive Farewell Dinner including a wine pairing.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast / Farewell Dinner)

  • Day 8


    When Isaac Graham settled in the hills outside of Santa Cruz in the 1830s, Mexican authorities named his rowdy settlement “Roaring Camp.” Today, journey back in time to the era of lumberjacks and sawmills in a re-created 1880s logging camp, complete with a general store and railroad depot. Luckily, Graham and his lumberjacks didn't cut down the massive redwoods just minutes away in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Walk among the awe-inspiring trees—some of the largest living things on earth—and admire these treasures of California. End your journey where you began, in the golden city of San Francisco. Take a transfer to San Francisco International Airport or return to the Hyatt Regency San Francisco if you wish to extend your stay.

    Meal(s): (Full Breakfast)

What's Included

Insider Experiences

  • Be My Guest Enjoy a dinner of locally sourced food with your hosts in Monterey.
  • Local Speciality Taste and learn about baking fortune cookies in San Francisco.
  • Unique Insight Explore the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco to explore the positive impacts that streetcars and cable cars have made on the quality of urban life in this great city.
  • Local Expert Join an agriculture education tour in Salinas Valley where you will discover what makes Monterey County the number one produce-growing region in the world.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City tour of San Francisco.
  • Visit the California State Rail Museum, "The Salad Bowl of the World" in Salinas Valley, Lake Tahoe, breathtaking Yosemite National Park, Monterey, Roaring Camp and Henry Cowell Redwood State Park.
  • View Mono Lake.
  • See quaint Carmel and Big Sur.
  • Scenic drive along spectacular 17-Mile Drive and ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train.


  • Welcome Reception with light appetisers.
  • 7 full breakfasts.
  • Regional Meal lunch.
  • 3 dinners (including Be My Guest, Regional Meal and Farewell Dinner).

Travel Highlights

  • All hotel service charges and tips, baggage handling fees and local taxes included.
  • Airport transfers are provided on the first and last day of your guided holiday
  • Audio Headsets are provided throughout your holiday to enhance your included sightseeing experiences.
  • A travel wallet with your documentation.
  • 7 nights First Class accommodation

Airport Transfers

  • For full details on transfers, please click here.
  • These prices are LAND-ONLY and are correct at the time of the website going live, however prices are subject to confirmation at the time
    of booking.
  • All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however prices and itineraries are subject to change, please confirm all details and final cost at time of booking.
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  • Hotels are subject to change.
  • * For single travellers purchasing the twin-share option, please note that there is a no smoking policy in all shared rooms. Solo travel is not accepted on guided Family Experiences holidays unless travelling as part of a family group. 
  • ^Twin-share option not available for trips to South America., Costa Rica, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii or for any holiday & cruise combination, or in Asia and Eastern Mediterranean except Highlights of Turkey (without cruise) & Best of Turkey.

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