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Northern California Self-Drive Tour

14 days from £4,180pp

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Tour highlights

  • Explore beautiful, cosmopolitan San Francisco.

  • Go wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley.

  • Go hiking at Mount Shasta.

  • Discover the beauty and tranquillity of Crater Lake National Park.

  • See the enormous redwood trees in Redwood National Park.

14 days from £4,180pp

Price includes:

  • Scheduled international flights
  • Fully insured vehicle hire
  • All accommodation
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Travel that's shaped around you

We know that travel has the most meaning when it's created individually for you. Our specialists will only start designing your trip once they understand exactly what you want it to be. So, consider this idea simply as inspiration for your own experience.

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to San Francisco. Upon arrival in San Francisco make your way to your hotel. You have the rest of the day to explore the city.

  • Enjoy a full day exploring San Francisco. You may wish to take a boat trip out on the bay, visit Chinatown with its quirky shops and decorative gate, take a stroll along Fisherman's Wharf and see the sea lions at Pier 39, or take a trip on one of the city's iconic cable cars.

  • Take a boat trip out to the former prison island of Alcatraz. Here you can enjoy an audio tour of the old prison, learning about the lives of former inmates and the ways in which they attempted to escape. Afterwards, you may wish to cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge, have lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, or take a ferry to the lovely bayside suburb of Sausalito.

  • Collect your rental car and drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge to the rolling vineyards of Sonoma County, around an hour away. This afternoon you could visit some of the area's vineyards to sample locally produced wines and indulge in an alfresco lunch.

  • The nearby town of Napa is the departure point of the Napa Valley Wine Train. This classic train winds its way through the vineyards of the valley, stopping at some of the most interesting and historic, and serving up a gourmet feast en route. Start with some sparkling wine and a light breakfast before stopping at one of California's premier sparkling wine producers. Rejoin the train for your lunch starter before visiting a 150-year-old vineyard. The main course of lunch follows, before the final stop at a château dating back to the 1880s. Finish the day with a pudding as you roll back toward Napa.

  • Journey north along the beautiful coastline of northern California to Trinidad. The drive takes around five hours, but there are many scenic state parks to stop at on the way. Highlights include Point Arena Lighthouse, the Victorian town of Mendocino with its pastel-painted buildings, and the Avenue of the Giants trees in Humbolt Redwoods State Park. Trinidad itself is home to beautifully rugged driftwood-strewn beaches, ideal for a secluded sunset stroll.

  • Leave Trinidad behind this morning and drive for around four and a half hours north to Mount Shasta. Along the way you pass through the beautiful scenery of Trinity National Forest and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, where you could stop for a stroll and a picnic. Once at Mount Shasta, you may have time to follow one of the many walking trails. We like the loop trail that takes in several waterfalls along the McCloud River. There's also the Panther Meadow Loop, which follows the spring water through the alpine meadows.

  • There is time to relax and enjoy the area's natural beauty this morning before you make your way north, through dramatic mountain scenery, to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. The journey takes around three hours and takes you through the Winema National Forest.

  • Enjoy a full day at this dramatic volcanic lake, where the bright blue waters contrast sharply with the verdant rocky scenery. We recommend taking a boat trip to Wizard Island in the middle of Crater Lake. This miniature cinder cone supports a variety of plant and animal life. You can also follow one of the park's many walking trails, which range from 20 minute strolls to more challenging three-hour hikes through wildflower meadows and old-growth forest.

  • Leaving Oregon behind, travel five hours south back into California, arriving at Redwood National Park. The journey takes you through the Rogue River National Forest and the Cascade Mountains provide an impressive backdrop. You may wish to stop to explore the caves at the Oregon Caves National Monument, which are tucked into a wooded canyon south of Grants Pass. Driving through Redwood National Park, you're surrounded by giant trees as you wind along the coastline.

  • Spend the day on a guided tour to learn about the enormous redwood trees of Redwood National Park. Some trees here can grow up to 100 m (328 ft) in height and are over 2,000 years old. Your guide will talk about the trees and their history, as well as the park's wildlife — look out for herds of elk, which thrive in these coastal forests.

  • Drive for around two and a half hours to the pretty Victorian town of Mendocino on the coast. Here you can explore its old painted houses and art shops, as well as cafés and wineries. You may wish to visit the nearby Montgomery Woods State Park to admire more ancient redwoods, or head to Mendocino Bay for incredible coastal views.

  • Make your way south along the coast and back to San Francisco — a drive of around three hours. Once at the airport, you can drop off your rental car before boarding your onward flight.

  • Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Accommodation options

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

Audley Travel specialist Victoria

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
July is one of the best times to visit
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
San Francisco
 
Sonoma
 
Trinidad
 
Crater Lake National Park
 
Mendocino
 

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