Experience the best of the West as you road trip to the some of the most raved about locations in the USA. The charming work of mother nature can be viewed by foot with hikes through the scenic trails of California. Quench your thirst in the illustrious wine making regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Shop to your hearts content on Rodeo Drive. From the Frisco hills to the LA streets, and everything in between, this adventure is sure to give you a taste of the American dream.
Leave your heart in San Francisco (is anyone getting these music lyric references?)
After breakfast at your hotel it's time to explore the collection of close knit neighbourhoods that make up fabulous Frisco. Two in particular are must-visits for the chance to view hippies and hipsters in their natural habitats. First stop, the hippy colony in Haight-Ashbury to see fashion and social attitudes frozen in time before visiting The Mission to examine a more contemporary tribe - the common or garden hipster. Another relatively new species - the tech gazillionaire - is on view in Mid-Market - as the centre of tech gravity shifts away from Silicon Valley. Our Dossier allows you to plan a self-guided meander around the city or a credit card busting shopping trip, but we can also arrange guided trips to see the city from a different perspective. We can also help you plot a tourist horde-avoiding route around the city's highlights, from the iconic island prison of Alcatraz to the basking sea lions at Pier 39 and the Swan Oyster Depot for a shellfish blow out.
OK, so we've leading you away from the coast now, but unlike Marmite, everyone loves Yosemite National Park so we just had to put it in the itinerary.
The journey will take four and half hour's but we recommend breaking this up with regular stops along the so-called Gold Rush Trail, celebrating the 19th century discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the subsequent mass migration of hopeful 'forty-niners' (named after the year 1849 when the rush started) that changed California forever. Follow - appropriately enough - Highway 49 to Sonora, one of the 'Mother Lode' towns that grew up along the principal seam of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We will recommend somewhere for lunch and a few fun things to do such as panning for gold or wandering the fun antique shops on main street before the onward journey to Yosemite and one of our recommended hotels just outside or in the heart of the National Park. Enjoy supper and an early night before tomorrow's chance to explore Yosemite's 1,200 square miles on a network of well-maintained walking trails.
The Cream of Carmel
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before heading west back across the Central Valley on the four hour drive to the Monterey Peninsula and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel itself is worth stopping in for lunch and for its long sandy beaches, pretty gallery-filled town centre and Mission San Carlos de Borromeo, one of the oldest Spanish colonial missions on the entire west coast. Just 15 minutes inland you will be staying at the extremely spoiling Carmel Valley Ranch; a place where you can really appreciate the relaxed Californian pace of life and enjoy hiking or a spot of mountain top yoga.
The classic Noughties film Sideways, about wine and much, much more, was filmed in the wineries of the Santa Ynez Wine Country, half an hour to the side of Santa Barbara and, much like in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, we can arrange full or half day tours of the finest wineries with a driver/guide so you can enjoy the finest vintages to your heart's content. If you extend your stay we would definitely recommend this option to enjoy some of California's finest pinot noirs (fans of Sideways will know that merlot is a dirty word). For a different take we recommend a morning on the beach, so we've booked you a morning's private surf lessons on one of the great city beaches - Leadbetter Beach - with a local instructor who will have you (if not already) catching waves in no time. Well, that's the plan, anyway. Then head back into downtown to reminisce about your new found skills over lunch before you do finally get the chance to appreciate the local vintages on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. We will provide you with a detailed map of the wineries and vineyard outlets stocking the region's finest vintages that are included on the trail, and you can walk the route to your palette's content. Delve into our Dossier again for dinner choices and enjoy another night in this eminently civilised city before heading to LA.
La La Landing
We're in the last furlong now, and there's no more apt place to film the final scene of your road trip movie than the movie capital of the world, LA. We work with a number of superb hotels in the city, so whether it's the beachfront vibe of Santa Monica or the city slicker scene in Beverly Hills we've got the perfect hotel for you. We recommend leaving after breakfast to arrive in LA in time for lunch so you've got a good couple of days to explore. We'll make sure you have a convenient downtown location to return your faithful car, which by now will have covered a good 800 or so miles. This afternoon you can take your pick from the bewildering range of things on offer to the do in the City of Angels. Our Dossier should help decipher what to do and where to do it, but a classic would be to take in Santa Monica and the city'scoastal community. LA is one of those cities that induces déjà vu because you've already seen it so many times on TV, but being there in the sun-soaked flesh is invariably better, so make sure to clock the muscle Marys on Venice Beach, spot a Google gazillionaire outside their Frank Gehry designed Binoculars Building (complete with 30ft tall binoculars sculpture entrance) and graze at Gjelina's the healthy holistic restaurant that seems to have invented most of the food trends of late (kale salads - nil point, farm to fork eating - dix points). Santa Monica is also to some 70-plus museums and galleries, so you can get a culture fix as well as some beach time. This evening you can choose from the ever-growing roster of hip restaurants in town before bedding down in your immaculate hotel.
If you would like to book the itinerary mentioned above, with economy flights, during mid-season and staying in our preferred room category at our preferred hotels.
If you would like to pare back the above itinerary by travelling at non-peak times, staying in a standard room and removing some or all of the guided activities.
If you are looking for something extra special, we can discuss with you upgrading your accommodation, flights or activities.
We rarely boast about our service but we believe it's what sets us apart and makes us truly original, so please forgive this moment of unabashed self-promotion.