Arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and proceed to your hotel in Hollywood. Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the United States. Home to famous movie stars and the infamous landmark, the
Hollywood sign, it is a city brimming with culture and happenings. This big metropolis has many regions with distinct flavors and communities.
Accommodations: Best Western Plus Dragon Gate or similar
Today, explore the City of Angels. Visit the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Take a stroll along the Walk of Fame and see the names of celebrities commemorated in pink stars along the sidewalk. Visit Mann’s Chinese
Theater, the best-preserved of the movie palaces from Hollywood’s golden era. Known for its celebrity hand and footprints in the forecourt, over 200 impressions are yours to discover. Drive through Beverly Hills, the most famous neighborhood in the United States and glimpse exclusive homes. Shop at famous Rodeo Drive, where luxury retail commands the street. If movie making is what you fancy, visit Universal Studios. Tour the sets and cast yourself in the thrilling rides, shows and attractions that bring the movies to life. In the evening, enjoy Universal City Walk, filled with restaurants and nightclubs.
Depart Los Angeles this morning and drive toward Santa Barbara. On the beautiful Pacific Coast, Santa Barbara is a gem. The pristine city’s climate gives rise to a number of natural attractions. Stroll through the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens to view breathtaking flora or hike a scenic nature trail in Los Padres National Forest. The beaches all have their own allure. East Beach attracts the trendy and young while fishing and whale watching are the favorites at Arroyo Burro. Enjoy the fine collection at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art or explore the Old Mission. Fresh seafood can be found in the restaurants on Stearn’s Wharf.
Accommodations: Best Western Plus Pepper Tree or similar
Depart Santa Barbara this morning for the luxurious drive up the Pacific Coast toward Monterey. Consider taking the famously scenic 17-Mile drive up the coast. Stop at the famous Pebble Beach and enjoy the sights
of luxurious mansions along the coast. Discover Nature’s treasures as you pass through the serene majesty of Del Monte Forest. Here you’ll quickly experience the magic of a legendary scenic tour that’s home to The Lone Cypress. You’ll see black cormorants, brown pelicans, California sea otters, harbor seals, and idle sea lions all in their natural habitat. For a gourmet picnic lunch along 17-Mile Drive, visit Pebble Beach Market adjacent to The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Best picnic spots are between Point Joe and Seal Rock and you’ll find picnic tables at many stops. After being swept away by the stunning Pacific coast views, spend the afternoon enjoying Monterey. Settled in 1770 as one of the first European outposts on the west coast, many of the early American Colonial buildings still stand. Monterey eventually became the sardine capital of the Western Hemisphere when the first packing plant was built in 1900. Today, the old sardine factories have been converted into quaint restaurants and boutique shops. This area called “Cannery Row” was made famous by the author John Steinbeck and still remains an amusing place to explore. Monterey Bay is a fantastic place to whale watch, tours are offered locally.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn Monterey by Sea or similar
Depart Monterey this morning on your way to San Francisco home of majestic Wine Country and the Golden Gate Bridge. Rows of elegant houses, the famous cable cars, clusters of ethnic neighborhoods, and the colorful waterfront all add to the distinctive international flavor of the city. Today, you are free to enjoy one of the many sights and sounds of San Francisco. Take a cable car ride to Fisherman’s Wharf for shopping, great food and entertainment. Another major attraction is Alcatraz, a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It served as lighthouse, a military fortification and finally as a federal prison until 1963. The rangers give excellent guided tours detailing the history and legends surrounding “The Rock.” Spend the day in Golden Gate Park; it offers dozens of fun things to do. Top sights are the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden. Don’t miss the local resident buffalo herd. This evening dine in one of San Francisco’s many distinctive neighborhoods; from Chinatown to the very Italian flavored North Beach, each offers its own distinctive culture and cuisine.
Accommodations: Best Western Plus Americania or similar
Visit the dramatic curves of Lombard Street, one of San Francisco’s most photographed sites. The beautifully landscaped, one-block descent from Hyde Street to Leavenworth Street, has given Lombard the title of “crooked street in the world.” At the intersection of Hyde and Lombard, a cable car route provides spectacular views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Coit Tower, Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge. Consider a visit to Muir Woods National Monument. This grove of coastal redwoods has been protected for a century, and the amazing specimens rank among the tallest trees in the world. Some reach 252 feet, are 14 feet across, and are more than 1000 years old. Paved trails make for easy exploration and unpaved trails offer more of a challenge for the hiking enthusiast. This evening, explore Chinatown, along its streets, exotic ingredients are sold, silks and jade are tendered, and wonderful native food can be found at the many restaurants.
Depart the bustle of San Francisco and drive toward Yosemite National Park. The striking beauty of Yosemite is due in part to the Yosemite Valley, whose flat floor contrasts with nearly vertical granite walls. The granite cliffs, including the El Capitan monolith, Glacier Point, and Half Dome all tower as major waterfalls tumble over them. In addition to the Valley, Yosemite includes an extensive high-mountain wilderness of peaks, rivers, meadows, and groves of giant sequoia trees. Extensive visitor activities, facilities, and services are available. At Yosemite Village, you can visit the Valley Visitor Center and see its orientation film, publications, theater programs, and exhibits highlighting the natural and human history of the area. Self-guiding trails start nearby. Elsewhere in Yosemite Valley, you can gaze up at the waterfalls; visit Mirror Lake/Meadow in the East Valley and the famous “Tunnel View” of Yosemite Valley at Wawona Tunnel.
Accommodations: Cedar Lodge or similar
Leave the Bakersfield behind and enjoy a visit to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These twin parks hold monuments to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity. Immense mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees all reside here making it a very unique place. Located in the foothills and mountains of the south central section of the Sierra Nevada range, Sequoia is famous for big things--some of the largest trees in the world and some of the highest mountains in the U.S., including Mt. Whitney, at 14,495 ft. Visit the tallest sequoia, 275-foot-tall General Sherman, which has a trunk that weighs 1,385 tons and a circumference of nearly 103 feet. Spectacular views can be seen from Moro Rock. Guided cavern tours areavailable and the visitor center contains much information about park history and seasonal activities. Continue to Bakersfield for an overnight stay.
Accommodations: Days Inn Bakersfield or similar
Today is a long day so an early start is a good idea. Leave the Yosemite area behind and drive toward Nevada through Death Valley National Park. Here you will find raw and barren earth as carved by the elements. The visitor center is located at Furnace Creek and will be a good starting point for seeing the park. You will be reaching Las Vegas in the evening. Las Vegas has something to offer everyone; from the outrageous live shows to the excitement of casinos, the action never stops from morning to night. Tonight, stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as “the strip”, for a foretaste of this spectacular city. This is “the main drag” of this glitzy town and is lined at either side with spectacular hotels, casinos, shops, restaurants and recreational facilities such as Wet n‘ Wild, and the Guinness Museum of World Records to name a few. Make sure not to miss the nightly fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. Using a dramatic combination of music, water and light, the Bellagio delivers spectacular performances nightly with its majestic fountains.
Accommodations: Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino or similar
Today you have the choice to explore this electric city or take one of the numerous helicopter tours to the Grand Canyon for a glimpse at one of the great natural wonders of the world. In Vegas, each hotel and casino has a distinctly different theme and all offer wondrous displays. Take a trip up to the top of the Stratosphere Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Enjoy dinner at the Top of the World, or simply admire the view from the observation deck. Visit any of the premier hotels including Caesars Palace, The Venetian and Paris for luxury shopping. If you’re searching for a bargain, drive to one of the outlet malls featuring designer names at discounted prices. For a different side of Vegas, visit Fremont Street. This historic street features shops, restaurants and casinos. Above you hangs a canopy screen where more than 12 million lights put on a spectacular show.
Drive away from the glitz of Las Vegas this morning toward the lovely town of San Diego home to SeaWorld Adventure Park and the San Diego Zoo. These world-class attractions feature a variety of spectacular sights and activities. A variety of animal-themed shows are featured and it’s even possible to take a behind the scenes tour. San Diego Zoo, known throughout the world for its efforts to recreate the natural habitats of the animals is a first-rate facility. More than 3,800 animals of over 800 different species make their home here. The zoo grounds cover 100 acres which includes more than 6,500 different species of plants. Specialized habitats include Tiger River, Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest, Polar Bear Plunge and Ituri Forest.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn San Diego Harbor or similar
This morning, before departing, you may want to visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for a taste of history and tradition. Experience the life of the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872. Even today, life moves slowest in this part of San Diego, where the hustle and bustle is balanced with history and fiestas. Visitors are offered a glimpse into yesteryear, as converging cultures transformed San Diego from a Mexican pueblo (small Town) to an American settlement. The buildings are old or, in some cases, built to look that way and the departure from urban sprawl is preserved. Five original adobe structures are part of this historic park which includes museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants. Continue to Santa Monica where you will enjoy a two-night stay.
Accommodations: Carmel by the Sea or similar
Both a seaside town and bustling city, Santa Monica has activities for both young and old, from beach games and bike paths to art galleries and nightclubs, from shopping and fitness to theater and concerts. Santa Monica’s cultural offerings run the gamut, with over 75 museums and art galleries within the walkable 8.3 square mile city limits. Not to mention the array of public art and sculpture exhibited in the streets. Visit Santa Monica Pier, once known as the “finish line” of legendary Route 66. It features an aquarium, an amusement park and the famous Hippodrome building, a mix of California, Byzantine and Moorish architecture that has been featured in many films. Spend some time at the beach; with 3.5 miles of Southern California beaches and over 300 days of sunshine, the Santa Monica Beach is a welcome retreat for vacationers and locals alike with a range of activities for everyone. Swimming, surfing, volleyball, skating and biking are among the favorite beach-side pastimes of this area. In the evening, countless dining experiences are available; Santa Monica is the reputed birthplace of “California” and “fusion” cuisine which is marked by an artistic blending of culinary styles and the freshest of organic ingredients.
Depart Santa Monica at your leisure this morning in route to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).