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.
Relax on the soft sands of Pismo Beach.
Enjoy the sparkle of Hollywood and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
With so much to see and do in such a vast area, a trip to California needs careful planning. Self-driving is the most popular way of touring the state’s many highlights. You can opt for a leisurely cruise down the coast along Highway 1 or to take in as much of the landscape as possible on a road trip of epic proportions.
Our specialists can advise on the best options and how you can combine the sites and attractions that interest you the most. Below, we’ve put together some itinerary ideas featuring routes that we know work particularly well, based on our own travels.
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Our recommended tours in California
These itineraries are designed to give you some suggestions for what is possible when you travel in California, and they showcase some of the routes that we’ve found work particularly well. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely for you by one of our specialists based on your particular tastes and interests.
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Stay on Coronado Island, one of the top places to walk to and relax on the beach.
Kayak along the California coastline taking in the natural caves and marine wildlife.
Explore the USS Midway Museum.
Enjoy a variety of small shops and restaurants on Coronado Island.
Take a ride up the Aerial Tramway for a bird's-eye view of Palm Springs.
Explore the homes of the rich and famous on an architecture tour of Palm Springs.
Spend a day discovering the unique landscape of Joshua Tree National Park.
Visit the infamous San Andreas Fault.
- The B&B has four private onsite cottages with fully equipped kitchens.
- The inn is situated a short walk from the main retail district in Santa Barbara.
- A huge variety of fresh, homemade dishes for breakfast.
- An ideal location for exploring, only five minutes to the beach and 20 minutes to the Old Mission.
- Each room is unique, with either views over mountains and beach or fireplaces and Jacuzzi baths.
Cycle over Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
Take a walk with a local guide and learn about different neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Enjoy a full day of privately guided hiking in Yosemite National Park.
Try rock climbing in Yosemite National Park.
Hawaii and California
Explore Maui's white-sand beaches.
Experience the heat of Kilauea Volcano.
Snorkel with sea turtles, whales and dolphins.
Between January and March you can also take a boat trip on the Pacific Ocean to see majestic humpback whales at sunrise.
Discover the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Explore the beaches and pretty towns along the Pacific coastline.
Watch for wildlife and get close to nature in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
See the salt flats of Badwater in the desolate Death Valley National Park.
Enjoy wine tasting in the glorious vineyards of the Napa Valley.
Explore the glamour of Hollywood and chic Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
Follow walking trails and see incredible geological formations in California and Arizona’s national parks.
Drive the iconic Pacific Coast Highway for dramatic views over the ocean and rugged coastline.
Soak up the electric atmosphere of Las Vegas.
Explore beautiful, cosmopolitan San Francisco.
Go wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley.
Go hiking at Mount Shasta.
Discover the beauty and tranquility of Crater Lake National Park.
See the enormous redwood trees in Redwood National Park.
Stay at luxurious hotels throughout, each with their own focus on food or wine
Wander the urban wine trails of Carmel and Santa Barbara
Meet local winemakers with an experienced guide on a private tour of Sonoma
Visit the Santa Ynez wine region on a privately guided bike tour
- Enjoy dinner with stunning ocean views at the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant.
- The hotel only has 39 rooms for a cozy feel with exquisite service.
- Enjoy the serene natural beauty of the area with a guided hike or in house stargazing.
- The style of the hotel is both elegant and natural, combining organic materials and modern design.
- The best views over the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed from the cliff top basking pools.
Spend five nights at a luxury ranch in a pristine valley in Montana.
Try out a variety of activities at the ranch, including horseback riding, fly-fishing for cutthroat trout, and mountain biking.
Unwind by relaxing in a cliff-side resort overlooking Laguna Beach.
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Some of our favorite travel guides
- Self-drive vacations in California
- Driving California's Pacific Coast Highway
- What to do in Yosemite National Park: our highlights guide
- Family vacations in California
Self-drive vacations in California
Take a fly-drive along the California coast and explore some of the region’s most captivating towns, cities and national parks, from glamorous LA, home of the US film industry, to the dramatic geological spectacles of Yosemite National Park.View this travel guide
Driving California's Pacific Coast Highway
Experience some of California's most impressive scenery on a drive along its central coast on Highway 1, taking in the sights of San Francisco, Los Angeles and everything in between. US specialist, Alex, discusses the route’s highlights, from laid-back beach communities to historic towns and vibrant cities.View this travel guide
What to do in Yosemite National Park: our highlights guide
Yosemite in California is one of America's most visited national parks. In order to get the most from your trip we highlight some of the finest trails and accommodation as well as recommending the best time to visit.View this travel guide
Family vacations in California
USA specialist David picks some of his highlights for a family vacation in California. From enjoying the different cultures in San Francisco to whale watching in Monterey, touring the film studies in Los Angeles to exploring Redwood National Park, California has a range of experiences for all ages.View this travel guide