The rugged coastline and sandy beaches of the Golden State provide the setting for a picture-perfect Collette vacation. From the big cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, to Mother Nature's masterpiece, Yosemite National Park, you'll see the sights and landmarks that make this state such a popular destination. San Francisco comes alive as a guided tour introduces you to some of the city's most popular landmarks such as Twin Peaks, Seal Rocks and the Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy ample time to explore on your own Fisherman's Wharf, the city's storied cable cars or shopping in Union Square. Then you're off to the incomparable Yosemite National Park, with its amazing waterfalls and rock formations. Explore the Spanish adobes and other beautifully restored buildings in Monterey, California's first capital. The mountains meet the sea along the dramatic 90-mile coastal, scenic drive between Carmel and San Simeon. With waves crashing outside one window and mountains on the other, this drive along the Big Sur Coast two-lane, winding highway is sure to take your breath away. There's time to stop and smell the flowers along the streets of Solvang, as Danish-style village. Stop at Hearst Castle in St. Simeon and tour some of this mountaintop retreat's 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens. Your trip to California wouldn't be complete without a visit to Los Angeles, and its famed Graumann's Chinese Theatre and star-studded Walk of Fame. A 2-night stay in charming San Diego, with its ideal climate and abundant attractions, is a perfect ending to your California vacation. Perhaps you'll visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo before joining fellow travelers for dinner at one of the city's best known architectural landmarks, Tom Ham's Lighthouse.
Day #1 Arrive San Francisco, California - Tour Begins - Welcome as you join us on a scenic journey along California’s amazing coast. Your tour begins in “the City by the Bay,” San Francisco. Enjoy the ambiance of this lively city, known for its ethnic diversity and unique history.
Day #2 San Francisco - A local guide showcases the popular landmarks of San Francisco, including the Twin Peaks, the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown. Later, enjoy some leisure time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf where you may sample cracked crab and the renowned sourdough French bread. Shop in lively Union Square or visit Ghirardelli Square, once the site of one of the largest producers of chocolate in the country. For a true local experience, ride the famed cable cars up and down San Francisco’s thrilling hills as you sightsee.
Day #3 San Francisco - Yosemite National Park - Today you wind through the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains en route to one of Mother Nature's greatest masterpieces, Yosemite National Park. While camping at the park in 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt called Yosemite "the most beautiful place in the world." Yosemite’s amazing waterfalls, unique rock formations, deep valleys, Alpine meadows and groves of giant sequoias will leave you awestruck as they did Ansel Adams, who lived in the park while taking his famous portfolio of striking photographs. Upon arrival, join your fellow travelers on an open-air tram* to view sites such as Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan, as well as learn about the park's history, geology, and wildlife.
Day #4 Yosemite National Park - Monterey - Travel to Monterey, the city often called the greatest meeting of land, sea and sky. Monterey is home to the famed 17 Mile Drive, also known as one of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. Along the drive you will pass through the Del Monte Forest and see such famous sights as the Lone Cypress Tree, perhaps the most photographed tree in the world; Seal Rock, where the seals may actually bark at you; and the Pebble Beach Golf Course. Next, travel to Old Monterey, the place where California’s statehood began in 1849, filled with lovingly restored historic buildings and Spanish adobes. An afternoon arrival will allow you time to independently explore charming Old Monterey and shop at Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck.
Day #5 Monterey - Solvang - Journey 90 miles along the Big Sur Coast, flanked by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the sea sprayed, rocky Pacific, for a trip that will surely take your breath away. Upon arrival in San Simeon, you will visit one of the world’s greatest showplaces, the palatial mountaintop retreat of Hearst Castle, built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Tour the Castle, built on a 40,000 acre ranch that Hearst frequently camped on as a child. Now a National Historic Landmark, Hearst was constantly building and rebuilding what he simply called "the ranch." As a result, the estate was not completed during Hearst's lifetime, and was later donated to the State of California in 1957. Explore some of its 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. Later, arrive at the quaint Danish village of Solvang, in Santa Barbara County, known for its old-world architecture and flower-lined streets. After dinner a local Solvang native will thrill you with the history of the Danish people who settled this beautiful area.
Day #6 Solvang - Santa Barbara - Solvang - Founded in 1911 by a group of Danish educators, Solvang’s flower-lined streets and European shops and bakeries are the perfect setting for a morning stroll. Later, you'll leave for Santa Barbara, famous for its breathtaking setting and natural beauty fused from the dramatic mix of mountains, valleys, beaches, islands and the sea. Some free time allows you to explore the downtown area laced with pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and paseos, with the Santa Ynez Mountains as a lovely backdrop. You may prefer to grab a pedicab (Santa Barbara’s answer to the rickshaw) or hop aboard an eco-friendly electric shuttle to the waterfront area famous for Stearns Wharf which has been a part of the scene since 1872.
Day #7 Solvang - Los Angeles - San Diego - This morning, continue on your coastal journey to glittering Los Angeles, the “City of Angels,” and home to Universal Studios, as well as a host of your favorite musical and film celebrities. During your tour of Los Angeles, visit Graumann's Chinese Theatre, where nearly 200 movie stars have left their hand and foot prints, and see the popular Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tonight, arrive in California's second largest city, San Diego. Known for its ideal climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches, and world-class attractions, San Diego is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Mexico, the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains.
Day #8 San Diego - This morning, join a local guide for a comprehensive tour including downtown, the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Coronado Island and Old Town San Diego. The afternoon is yours to experience San Diego at your leisure. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner at a great local restaurant.
Day #9 San Diego - Tour Ends - Your tour ends today, but the memories will stay with you forever.