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Coastal California & The Wine Country
If you adore magnificent scenery, great food and delicious wine, you'll love this leisurely 10 night fly-drive along the scenic California Coast and the wonderful wine valleys.
Price per person includes:
Return flights UK to San Francisco/home from Los Angeles
10 nights accommodation in inns, B&B's, boutique hotels or resorts
8 days car hire (convertibles are available on this itinerary - ask us about your options)
A personalised road book with travel tips and day to day driving itinerary with local area information
Ideal time to visit is year round, however, the California Grape Crush occurs in September
San Francisco, Napa & Sonoma Wine Valley
Famous 17 Mile Drive & the scenic Pacific Coast Highway
Monterey, Santa Cruz and Hearst Castle
Paso Robles Wine Country
Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara
Los Angeles and the beaches
Day 1 : San Francisco
If food were a religion, then San Francisco might be Mecca for epicurean enthusiasts. To really get into the Northern California lifestyle, start the day at the Ferry Building Marketplace, where you can interact with local farmers, artisan producers and independently owned and operated food businesses, stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can visit several museums and shops – including Ghiradelli Square or take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, where some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century lived from 1934-1963.
Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf or venture over to North Beach, San Francisco’s version of Little Italy, for an evening of gourmet comfort food and lively nightlife.
Day 2 : San Francisco
In the morning, head over to Scharffen Berger, a boutique chocolatier in Berkeley. Take a free factory tour and learn more about how small-batch, artisan manufacturing creates one of the most coveted dark chocolates in the U.S. – from cacao bean to bar. Then, return to San Francisco to explore Chinatown, including a stop at a wonton fortune cookie factory. For dinner, enjoy a night out at one of the city’s finest restaurants, followed by lounging in a swanky champagne or wine bar.
Day 3 : Sonoma Wine County & Historic Petaluma
In the morning, begin your journey into one of the most renowned wine regions in the U.S. – Sonoma County. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, where your first stop should be the bridge overlook, perfect for a hike across the bridge or just capturing spectacular skyline photos. Then drive about an hour north to Petaluma, one of the oldest cities in California with one of the best-preserved historic downtowns.
Stop for lunch in historic Sonoma, where the vibrant restaurant scene reflects the agricultural bounty of the region. Spend the afternoon exploring the Sonoma Valley and Russian River wineries. For dinner, enjoy a gourmet dinner in Santa Rosa, the capital of Sonoma County, or head over to the coastal towns of Bodega Bay or Jenner.
Day 4 : Napa Wine Valley
Spend the day an night in world-renowned Napa Valley. For lunch, catch the Napa Valley Wine Train, a scenic 3-hour gourmet-dining excursion aboard a lavishly restored Pullman Dining and Lounge car. Browse through small towns – such as Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga – shop and taste olives and award-winning vintages along the St Helena Highway in the heart of the valley. Or if you’re looking for a change of pace, take a hot-air balloon ride over the valley. In the evening, enjoy dinner at some of the best restaurants in the world. We'd be happy to make restaurant recommendations/reservations for you.
Days 5 : Santa Cruz/Los Gatos
Drive about an hour south to the charming town of Los Gatos. Spend time shopping or exploring the many trails, wine tasting rooms and restaurants. After lunch, take Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz, venturing to various wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine region.
In the late afternoon, let your inner child loose at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the only major seaside amusement park on the West Coast and a real retro gem. If the beach doesn't appeal, take a trip to Gilroy, the garlic capital of California - home of Garlic World and the wonderful Garlic City Cafe.
Day 6 & 7 : Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo
In the morning drive about an hour south to Monterey’s historic waterfront district, Cannery Row, immortalised in John Steinbeck’s novel. There you can shop or explore Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the finest in the world. Watch seals play while you sip local wines and savour fresh seafood for lunch.
After lunch, drive two hours south on Highway 101 to the town of Paso Robles, the heart of Paso Robles Wine Country. Venture to various vineyards on your own or take a guided wine tour. You have two nights in this area, so worth considering a visit to Hearst Castle as well.
Days 8 & 9 : Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez
In the morning, drive about an hour south to Solvang, a Danish-inspired city where you can breakfast at mouth-watering traditional bakeries. Walk off your meal by browsing the local shops and museums, and then spend the afternoon enjoying the Santa Ynez Valley wine region. Be sure to include a stop for lunch in Beullton at the Hitching Post, made famous in the film Sideways. Here you can enjoy a glass of fine local wine with delicious Spanish Ranchero-style barbecue food. Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills with cool ocean breezes, warm afternoons and mineral-rich soil, are producing some of California’s most sought-after Pinots.
Hire a bike whilst in Santa Barbara and ride the scenic bike trails that hug the coast. Or hop on the Condor Express for a trip out to the Channel Islands, and a spot of whale watching (in season). Or simply stroll through the quaint streets of this Moorish seaside town and enjoy the laid-back way of life here - you have two nights here to soak up the lovely atmosphere.
Day 10 : Los Angeles
Drive about 90 minutes south to Los Angeles - your stay for tonight. Enjoy the Original Farmers Market, one of southern California’s best place to people-watch and enjoy culinary delights. Then on to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive and possibly a tour of celebrity homes. Hollywood and Highlands is home to the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The day is yours to explore the glitz and glam of L.A.
Day 11 : Return to UK
Enjoy a stroll along Santa Monica or Malibu Pier and brunch on the beach before you board your late afternoon flight home.
Your adventure doesn't have to end here, however. Perhaps you may want to extend your stay and spend some time on the beach in Los Angeles or perhaps a mountain retreat at Ojai.
Call the USA travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your perfect Coastal California and The Wine Country fly-drive.
Very friendly advisers, with detailed knowledge who want to create a great holiday for their clients. I would recommend this agency to anyone wanting a holiday that isn't off-the-peg and yet doesn't cost a fortune.