Highlights of Northern California
Venture to a land of rolling vineyards, iconic coastal cities and splendid scenery with our Highlights of Northern California Tour. Along with plenty of time to explore the region at your leisure and enjoy the relaxed Californian lifestyle, you'll embark on exciting excursions to popular spots like Napa Valley and historic Sacramento. Nature lovers will no doubt look forward to soaking up the stunning landscapes of Yosemite National Park, while San Francisco's steep hills and famed Golden Gate Bridge also await.
- Return flights
- 10 nights in great quality hotels plus 1 night in flight
- 9 meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner and welcome drink
- Dinner with local wine in Napa Valley
- Travelsphere Tour Manager and Specialist Local Guide
- Overseas transfers, other transportation& porterage
Day 1: San Francisco
Depart on your scheduled flight to San Francisco. On arrival, we'll transfer you to your hotel where you’ll have some time to get to know the rest of your travelling companions over a welcome drink.
Day 2: San Francisco
Start your discovery of Northern California with a tour of its most famous city. Once the heart of the California Gold Rush, hill-top San Francisco is now renowned for its eclectic mix of attractions for every kind of traveller. Savour fresh crab at Fisherman's Wharf while you admire the impressive Golden Gate Bridge or head up to the Twin Peaks for panoramic views of the Bay Area.
In the afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to meander around the city at your own pace or join our optional excursion to Alcatraz. Between 1934 and 1963, this tiny fortified island was home to perhaps the world's most infamous prison of the same name.
Day 3: San Francisco - Napa Valley
Spend another morning soaking up San Francisco at leisure, from its pretty Painted Ladies (colourful Victorian houses) to lush Golden Gate Park. There's also the chance to discover the city's highlights on an optional bike tour with a Local Guide.
We'll regroup just before lunch and swap San Francisco's steep streets for pretty Sausalito just across the bay. Stroll along its attractive boardwalk and set some time aside to see bohemian houseboats built in the 1940s at Richardson Bay. Next, it's time to venture to Napa Valley and indulge in a delicious dinner accompanied by famous wines.
Day 4: Napa Valley - Sonoma
Explore more of California's wine country with a trip to Sonoma, a historic city replete with colonial-era buildings and numerous galleries. We'll tuck into a lunch of tasty local cuisine and enjoy a wine tasting session before setting out on a scenic drive through the Napa Valley to Oxbow Public Market. The 40,000 square foot marketplace sits right on the shores of the Napa River and is jam-packed with stalls and eateries selling all manner of regional delicacies.
In the evening, you'll have the chance to hop on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a leisurely cruise through lush vineyards – all the while savouring fresh Californian cuisine. Alternatively, kick back and enjoy a relaxed evening at your hotel.
Day 5: Napa Valley - Sacramento - Lake Tahoe
Today is taken up by a visit to California's state capital, Sacramento. The city was a key hub during the Gold Rush era and you can still spot old-world saloons, wooden sidewalks and the occasional horse and cart in Sacramento's Old Town.
Learn more about the fascinating city at the Sacramento History Museum or head to a farmer's market for a food truck feast with locally brewed beer. We'll then continue on to our next hotel in beautiful Lake Tahoe.
Day 6: Lake Tahoe - Mariposa
Wake up to wonderful views and an optional boat cruise across Lake Tahoe. The immense lake (the largest alpine lake in North America) lies on the border of California and Nevada and is fringed by several picturesque State Parks.
In the afternoon, we'll depart Lake Tahoe for Mariposa. The attractive area is one of California's original counties and it's just a short drive from the forests, waterfalls and granite walls of Yosemite National Park.
Day 7: Yosemite National Park
From glimpsing Yosemite Valley for the first time from the Wawona Tunnel to standing beside a giant sequoia tree, there’s a lot to look forward to at Yosemite National Park. You’ll get to spend an entire day making the most of its natural allures, whether that’s taking in the jaw-dropping views or enjoying a paddle at Cathedral Beach in the shadow of the soaring, 900-metre-high El Capitan rock.
Day 8: Mariposa - Monterey
Today, we'll take a scenic drive through California's Central Valley to Monterey. Enjoy an ocean-themed day beginning with a visit to Cannery Row, a historic street lined with old sardine packing factories. It was made famous by prolific American author John Steinbeck in his novel of the same name, which is set in the city during the Great Depression.
It's up to you whether you take the rest of the day to relax and sightsee at your own pace, or if you'd like to sign up for our optional tour of Monterey Bay Aquarium. Built on the site of one of the city's old factories, highlights include the sea otter pools and 28-foot kelp forest.
Day 9: Monterey at Leisure
Uncover Monterey at your own pace today with a leisurely wander around the city. Spend a few hours exploring the shops and tucking into fresh seafood at Old Fisherman's Wharf or stroll along the 18-mile Monterey Beach Coastal Trail in the sunshine.
If you'd rather take advantage of the coastal idylls on the city's doorstep, why not join our optional tour of the magnificent California coastline on the famous Pacific Coast Highway 1 and the Big Sur, which includes a stop for wine-tasting.
Day 10: Monterey - Carmel - San Francisco
On your final full day in Northern California, we'll take you on a tour of 17 Mile Drive, a popular coastal road that hugs the Monterey Peninsula. Stop off at various viewpoints and pass a host of natural and historic highlights, including the famous Lone Cypress Tree on Pebble Beach.
The scenic drive will end in charming Carmel, another Californian city by the sea that's known for its mix of art galleries, fine dining and gorgeous white sand beaches. After soaking up its sights, it'll be time to return to San Francisco.
Day 11: San Francisco - UK
We'll transfer you to San Francisco airport for your return flight to the UK.
Day 12: UK
Today, you'll land back in the UK.
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