Discover the best of the American west on this tailor-made self-drive
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- Explore bohemian San Francisco and beachside Santa Monica
- Contrast Napa Valley vineyards with the barren landscapes of Death Valley
- Watch as waterfalls plunge down Yosemite's towering granite peaks
- Hit the casinos and clubs of Las Vegas, America's Sin City
- See how the other half live in celebrity-favourite Palm Springs
- 3 Nights San Francisco
- 2 Nights Napa Valley
- 2 Nights Yosemite National Park
- 1 Night Death Valley National Park
- 2 Nights Las Vegas
- 2 Nights Grand Canyon
- 1 Night Palm Springs
- 2 Nights Santa Monica
City | Food & wine | History & culture | Natural world | Self-drive
Covering many of California's highlights, this curated fly-drive begins in San Francisco, its Golden-Gate icon looking out over sixties-infused suburbs and the inescapable Alcatraz. Then, it's on to Napa Valley's esteemed wineries for scenic cycle rides and optional tastings followed by the spectacular granite peaks of Yosemite National Park, whose waterfall-dotted verdure contrasts perfectly with the austere desolation of Death Valley, just a short drive south. Hopping across the border into Nevada, the bright lights of Las Vegas pave the way for trips out to the Grand Canyon before the million-dollar mansions of celebrity-favourite Palm Springs and Santa Monica's iconic beachfront bring this epic road trip to a close.
Day by day itinerary
Begin your holiday in style, with included airport lounge access before your flight to San Francisco. You'll have two full days to explore the city, where such headline-grabbing icons as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and Alacatraz fight for attention alongside the likes of trendy Nob Hill and the erstwhile hippy enclave of Haight-Ashbury. It's alsoworth heading further afield, with a drive out to Muir Woods bringing you among towering redwood trees, and a boat-trip out to Angel Island affording some of the best views of the city's iconic skyline.
Stay: Abri Hotel (Standard) or The Argonaut (Superior)
Collecting your hire car, you'll drive to north to Napa Valley where acre upon acre of rolling vineyards and pretty rural villages await. Most of the best-known estates, and many of the smaller ones, offer daily tours and tastings, with the best, and busiest, time to visit falling between August and October when the grapes are harvested. Hiring a bike for the day is a wonderful way to hop between wineries, with the historic Silverado Trail cutting right through the valley. There's also the superb Napa Valley Wine Train, where guests are invited to take in the views from early 20th-century Pullman carriages while enjoying multi-course gourmet dining, all wine matched of course.
Stay: River Terrace Inn (Superior) or The Meritage Resort & Spa (Superior)
Yosemite National Park
Today's drive brings you east across sweeping plains to the mountainous Sierra Navada and the world-heritage-listed Yosemite National Park. With upwards of 800 miles of hiking trails, you'll have no shortage of options for exploring the park's forest-framed cliffs, glittering lakes, plunging waterfalls and flower-filled meadows. Call into the Yosemite Valley Visitor Centre to learn about the park's unique geology, and discover its centuries-old cultural heritage at the Yosemite Museum, whose exhibits chart the origins and lives of valley's native inhabitants.
Between November–March, you'll spend the first night in Majestic Yosemite Hotel before heading to the nearby Sequoia National Park for a real winter experience. Stay: Wuksachi Lodge (Superior)
Stay: Evergreen Lodge (Superior) or Majestic Yosemite Hotel (Superior)
Just six hours' drive from the fertile forests of Yosemite, the scenery undergoes a dramatic change as you enter the moon-like landscapes of the Death Valley National Park in the western Mohave Desert. Straddling the state California and Nevada border, this is largest national park south of Alaska, its shifting dunes framed by gaping canyons, wind-sculpted rocks and extinct volcanic craters. Despite this apparent hostility, there is life here, with everything from badgers, bats and bobcats to kangaroo rats and mountain lions making their homes in what is the USA's driest and hottest region. And, amid it all, small pockets of green spring up, oasis-like, from the desert floor. Nowhere more so than at your hotel, where spring-fed swimming pools and the manicured fairways of an 18-hole golf course contrast vividly against the endless dusty red.
Stay: The Inn at Death Valley (Superior)
As you cross into Nevada, the desert landscapes continue, this time bringing you to perhaps the greatest oasis of them all. Las Vegas is a twenty-four hour, no-holds-barred assault on the senses. Along its strip, ultra-luxury hotels and world-class restaurants fight for space alongside the endless neon. In the hotels and casinos, it's almost impossible to distinguish between day and night. It's a place to have fun, to truly let yourself go. It's the American dream, brought to life on a grand scale. And, gambler or not, it's a place that everyone should visit at least once.
Stay: Le Mirage Hotel & Casino (Superior) or Bellagio (Deluxe)
The contrasts continue today as you swap the bright lights of the Strip for one of nature's great spectacles – the Grand Canyon. Driving the Desert View road – a 25-mile stretch along Arizona Route 64 – you'll pause to take in the canyon's two-billion years of geology from the lookouts at Lipan and Moran Point. Then, after checking into your historic hotel, you'll be treated to spectacular sunset views from your privileged vantage point on the canyon's southern rim.
Please note, El Tovar will be closed between July 2018 and March 2019. During this time, accommodation will be at Maswik North.
Stay: El Tovar, Grand Canyon (Deluxe)
Palm Springs/La Quinta
The desert town of Palm Springs has long been a retreat for stars of stage and screen looking to escape the crowds of Los Angeles. The real highlight of the region, however, is the magnificent Joshua Tree National Park. Here, twisted rock formations, deep canyons and the ubiquitous Joshua trees from which the park takes its name, create a stunning backdrop for rambling hikes, mountain bike rides and some of the USA's most challenging rock climbs. Back in Palm Springs itself, you'll find an enticing mix of retro-chic architecture, championship golf courses and world-famous music festivals, all set against the mountainous beauty of the Coachella Valley.
Return to the coast to drop off your hire car in Santa Monica, a hippy-chic enclave to the north of Los Angeles whose landmark pier, complete with Ferris wheel, has played a starring role in such film classics as Forrest Gump and Iron Man. And, whether it's shopping trips, dining at family-run taquerias, wandering the weekend famers' market or simply relaxing on the beach, it makes the perfect ending to your Californian adventure.
Stay: Best Western Gateway Santa Monica (Standard) or Le Méridien Delfina (Superior)
Depart for the UK
While away your morning at leisure before making your way to Los Angeles International Airport for your overnight flight home, arriving in the UK on day 17.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
Last Minute offer: Save up to £510 pp.
Book by: 31 January 2018
from £1,960 pp. incl. flights
from £3,205 pp. incl. flights
- Complimentary UK airport lounge access
- Flight between the UK and San Francisco
- Flight between Los Angeles and the UK
- 11 days Economy car hire including personalised road book
- 15 nights accommodation in typically 3* (Standard) & 4* (Superior) hotels on a room only basis
Terms & Conditions
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.
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