A Family Road Trip on the West Coast
An action-packed holiday for the whole family, combining city adventures in San Francisco and Los Angeles with the great outdoors, where the kids can explore a selection of National Parks along with their waterfalls, rapids and beautiful rock formations. Add on guided activities such as rock climbing and horse riding lessons to make this the ultimate summer trip for the kids.
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Day 1: International Flight | Golden Gate Dreams
Arrive at San Francisco International Airport, where you and your family will be met by a representative on the ground and privately transferred to your hotel for the next three days. The St Regis San Francisco is located in the heart of this lively city and the perfect base to explore the many activities on offer.
We always recommend getting stuck into the local time to beat jet lag so get the juices flowing after your 11 hour flight by taking a bicycle ride across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the best way to see the bay and a great activity for the whole family to enjoy.
Day 2: Under The Friscan Sea
Dive into the underwater world of San Francisco and head to the Aquarium of the Bay, a firm favourite with the little ones.
Explore the magic of the aquarium and pass through three main habitat areas, taking in the diversity of marine life in the Aquarium. At Touch the Bay, kids can guess the texture before dipping their fingers into the shallow pools during their experience of the interactive touch stations.
Day 3: Escape from Alcatraz
On your last day in San Francisco, visit Alcatraz for your tour of the legendary island that has been a Civil War fort, a military prison and one of the most notorious federal penitentiaries in US history.
The tour includes a 45 minute audio presentation "Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour" featuring actual correctional officers and prisoners who lived and worked on the island; an orientation video by the Discovery Channel; a ranger and docent tours; historic gardens and abundant wildlife.
Days 4-5 : Nature Calls
From the buzz of San Francisco to the great outdoors, pick up your hire car and head to Yosemite National Park, approximately a three hour drive inland.
Explore the alpine meadows, tumbling waterfalls and granite monoliths, and be dwarfed by groves of ancient sequoia trees (yes, parents too) on foot, retreating to the Tenaya Lodge for well-earned rest.
- Zip lining in the Sierra National Forrest Rock
- Climbing classes
- Mule rides
Day 6: Thrill Seekers Found Here
Take your family out for a day of rafting in the Merced River Canyon. On this trip, the park is seen from a whole new perspective, and with plenty of thrills along the way.
You will stop midway to a jumping rock, where the kids can have fun jumping in and splashing around the river.
Days 7-8: Carmel-by-the-sea
Continue your journey and reach the Carmel Valley Ranch, a short drive from Yosemite.
The kids and teens club will fill the next couple of days with many activities, keeping children busy with hiking, tennis and arts and crafts on offer. Parents can take this opportunity to indulge in the treetop Aiyana Spa, or enjoy wine tastings.
- Carmel Valley Ranch Bee experience
- Behind the scenes at Monterey Bay Aquarium and 'Finding Dory'
Day 9: Morro Bay Watch
Your next stop is Morro Bay, a two and a half hour drive, where you will be staying in the family run and family oriented Anderson Inn location on the seafront.
On your arrival, get ready for a day of whale watching. Hop onto the open boat with some sun screen and a hat and look out for the local marine wildlife; Humpback Whales, California Gray Whales and Blue Whales have all been spotted in these waters, you may even catch the glimpse of a seal, popping its head above the surface.
Day 10: All Seasons for Fun
Another two hours southwards will take you to the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. Here, you will be set within 22 acres of garden.
The Coral Casino Beach Club offers surfing, kayaking and swimming, whilst parents lounge poolside, or indulge in a spa treatment or two. Enrol your children in the Kids for All Seasons program on your first day, where the hotel staff will keep the little ones busy and excited with a range of activities within the resort. During this time we strongly suggest that parents relax by the pool or chill out at the beach.
Day 11: Ace Adventura
Spend the next day exploring the American Riviera together. You will venture out of the resort and head to the Santa Barbara Zoo to visit more than 180 species that live on this plot of 16 acres.
Attend one of the special events, which we can get tickets for you in advance and could range from a behind the scenes tour, where an experienced guide can lead you on a private tour through the Zoo and learn about the duties of the Zoo keepers, to a craft day where you can build your own animal related home-made keepsakes.
Day 12: Shutters on the Beach
Cruise some of the final miles of Highway 1 into Los Angeles to conclude your family adventure. You will be based at Shutters on the Beach, a family-friendly hotel situated on the relaxed sands of Santa Monica, with yoga, volleyball and surfing available on your doorstep.
Today you will experience a VIP tour of Universal Studios, to see some of the oldest film sets in Hollywood, and of course there's the obligatory visit to Hollywood to name-spot the avenue of stars, and marvel at Grauman's Chinese theatre.
Day 13: Ocean Front Stroll
Venture into the surrounding Santa Monica Pier to spend the day experiencing a slice of relaxed coastal LA life. Here, you can hire bicycles and cycle along the oceanfront promenades.
The kids can rent a boogie board and skim the waves whilst you relax on the beach. If you take a stroll down Venice Beach's Ocean Front Walk, you'll come across stalls selling anything and everything, and it's perfect for people watching, from skaters, body builders, mimes, break dancers, drummers and jugglers.
Day 14: Return to the UK
Take the kids to the California Science Center on the last day and discover some hands-on science exhibits, animals and the space shuttle Endeavour.
Why not experience a film on the huge seven-storey IMAX screen on site afterwards. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, head to the Beverly Center or combine shopping with a beach trip at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Make the most of your last day before you head back to the hotel to collect your luggage, before heading to the airport, to drop your car off and catch your international flight home.
Will, George, Abigail and Kate B are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.