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California Explorer

  • San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, Las Vegas
California Explorer California Explorer
£ 5295

Heading away from the coast, this adventurous self-drive will introduce you to California’s wealth of inland attractions, from rolling hillside vineyards to natural sanctuaries with mile-high granite cliffs.

After a couple of nights in vibrant San Francisco, you’ll pick up your hire car and make your way up into California’s wine country - an enchanting world of gold-green hills scattered with family-run wineries and Michelin-starred restaurants. From here you’ll set off to discover the imposing granite monoliths of Yosemite National Park and the barren, sun-baked desert of the Death Valley. 

Las Vegas, the lavish desert oasis with spectacularly themed hotels, glitzy casinos and first-class shows, makes for a fitting finale. 

14 days from
per person
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    Detailed Itinerary
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    Day 1-3 London - San Francisco

    Begin in the great city of San Francisco where highlights range from cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge to ferry trips to nearby Alcatraz – opt for a guided night tour for a more intimate, engaging experience of this infamous prison island.

    You’ll also find an array of wonderfully diverse neighbourhoods to explore, from the enormous Chinatown to student Berkeley and distinctly Italian North Beach (home to the iconic City Lights Bookstore). Other must-see attractions include crooked Lombard Street and the brightly painted Victorian buildings known as the Painted Ladies, as well as Pier 39 with its colony of sea lions. You’ll be staying at the upscale Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf with superb views out across San Francisco Bay. 

    Stay: Three nights at the Argonaut Hotel

    Day 4-6 Napa Valley

    From Frisco, hire a car and follow route 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge towards picturesque Napa Valley whose acclaimed vineyards are responsible for producing some of America’s finest wines. 

    With elegant Hotel Yountville as your base, you’ll be able to devote your days to private wine tastings and behind-the-scenes tours of the wine making process, cycling through the scenic countryside and indulging in delicious farm-to-table cuisine at your hotel and surrounding restaurants. You can also pay a visit to the Napa Valley Museum to learn more and the fascinating culture and history of the region. 

    Stay: Three nights at Hotel Yountville

    Day 7-9 Yosemite National Park

    From Napa Valley, it’s just a short drive inland to reach the vertical world of Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. An icon of America’s majestic natural beauty, the park is famed for its ancient sequoia trees, wildflower meadows, glacier-carved valleys and cascading waterfalls that hang from 3,000-foot granite cliffs like bridal veils. 

    You’ll be staying at the east end of Yosemite Valley, surrounded by views of the park’s most famous icons, including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. There are well-signposted hiking and biking trails in abundance, whilst those feeling more adventurous can opt for rock climbing or zip-lining. You can explore independently or in the company of a knowledgeable guide for a deeper insight into the park’s geology and wildlife. 

    Stay: Three nights at The Ahwahnee

    Day 10 Death Valley National Park

    Discover more extreme landscapes further south in the appropriately named Death Valley National Park. This is one of the hottest and driest places on earth, with sun-baked dunes and water-sculpted canyons that harbour a surprising diversity of life, including rattlesnakes, bighorn sheep and over 1,000 species of plants. Plus, Native American archaeological sites and ancient rock art. 

    Base yourself at the Inn at Death Valley, whose natural spring-fed pool remains a balmy 30°C even on the coolest of desert nights. From here you can set out to marvel at the spectacular colours that adorn the eroded hills of Artist’s Palette, the field of salt crystal formations known as Devil’s Golf Course and the Badwater Basin – the lowest point in North America. 

    Stay: One night at The Inn at Death Valley

    Day 11-13 Las Vegas

    Leaving Death Valley behind, you’ll now drive over the state line to Las Vegas in neighbouring Nevada. With its lavishly themed hotels, glitzy casinos and wacky, over-the-top buildings, this money-making desert oasis makes for a fabulous finale to any Californian adventure. Even if you don’t gamble a cent, you can still indulge in Michelin-starred dining, browse high-end boutiques and experience world-class shows such as Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group. Stay at the iconic Bellagio Hotel, famed for its elegance and dancing water fountains. 

    Stay: Three nights at Bellagio Las Vegas

    Day 14 Las Vegas - London

    Return to the airport for your international flight back to London. 

    • Gemma took on board all I asked for and arranged a fantastic itinerary. She was always prompt and professional both in planning the holiday and during the very circumstances of Covid. We would not hesitate to come back to The Ultimate Travel Company.

      -
      TS, August 2020