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Bixby Bridge, Pacific Coast Highway

Coastal California self-drive tour

11 days from CAD4,635pp

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Tour highlights

  • Tour Alcatraz and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

  • Go whale watching in Monterey, looking out for orcas and humpback whales.

  • Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway with its dramatic views of the rugged coastline and the ocean.

  • Enjoy the bustling beachside pier at Santa Monica and learn the basics of surfing with a professional instructor.

Price includes:

  • All accommodation
  • Vehicle rental
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

Private customized tour.

  • On arrival in San Francisco, make your way to your downtown hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax. You could begin to explore the city, perhaps taking a stroll in Golden Gate Park, or exploring the brightly decorated streets of Chinatown.

  • Today you are booked on a tour of the legendary Alcatraz prison. The ferry to Alcatraz Island leaves from Fisherman's Wharf. After you arrive you will walk around the prison with your own personal headsets (with audio from ex-inmates) that tell you all about the history.

  • Another day to enjoy the City by the Bay. With your experienced guide, cycle from Fisherman's Wharf across the Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful small town of Sausalito, have lunch there and then catch the ferry back across the bay.

  • This morning, pick up your rental car. Your first drive of the trip is a simple two-hour journey out of the city along the Pacific Coast Highway, through the undulating Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coastal highway to Monterey. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town at leisure; we recommend the scenic coastal drive around 17-Mile Drive, which passes through the pretty town of Carmel with its gated mansions and boutique shops.

  • Today, you'll make your way to the marina, where you'll embark on an exciting three-hour small group whale-watching expedition. The area becomes a feeding ground for blue whales, Risso’s dolphins, humpback whales, northern right whale dolphins, and orcas. The rest of the day is yours to explore Monterey — you could visit the aquarium, which focuses on marine conservation and features interactive exhibits about the area's marine life, or you could browse the shops, galleries and restaurants of historic Cannery Row.

  • Departing Monterey, drive around three hours south along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, passing the Big Sur and many small coastal towns along the way. When you arrive in Cambria, spend the afternoon at leisure strolling Moonstone Beach or visiting the craft shops, fashion boutiques and delicatessens in the little town.

  • This morning, drive further down the coast and inland through the Santa Ynez Valley, where the majority of the region's wine production happens. Once you arrive in Santa Barbara, we can highly recommend a walk down to Stearn's Wharf for some freshly caught seafood.

  • This morning, a walk around historical Santa Barbara and the historical Mission, built in 1786. We love wandering down the tree-lined State Street and enjoying a delicious coffee and breakfast in one of the local bistros. In the afternoon, you'll head out onto the water in a kayak to get up close to the wildlife in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Your experienced guide will show you the paddling basics before you take to the water.

  • Complete your coastal journey with a two-hour drive south to Los Angeles. En route, you can visit the beautiful coastal area of Malibu, where homes of the rich and famous cling to the cliffside. Continue to Santa Monica, where you'll drop your car off at the depot, before making your way to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to start exploring the city — you could stroll down the boardwalk from Santa Monica to Venice Beach to visit the famed Muscle Beach and pick up some ice cream on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

  • Surfing lessons are included for today's free day in Los Angeles. Even for a beginner, your instructor will guide you through the principles of surfing, and once you feel confident with the movements, you can take your board out into the water.

  • There's time this morning for some last-minute shopping and sightseeing in the city before making your own way to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodations, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

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Audley Travel Specialist Shannon
Contact a California specialist

The specialist who designs your trip to California will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
San Francisco
 
Monterey
 
Santa Barbara
 
Los Angeles
 

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