San Diego – Los Angeles – Santa Barbara – Pismo Beach – Yosemite National Park – San Francisco
Insight Vacations have created remarkable travel experiences for travellers for over 40 years. They believe that connecting with the places you stay is crucial to having an authentic experience, so their escorted tours focus on showcasing the best of the USA and Canada’s sights beyond the obvious tourist destinations. Your experience on any Insight Vacations escorted tour will be immersive and luxurious: they ensure that only the finest hotels are hand-picked and that you arrive in comfort on their exclusive customised coach, boasting plenty of legroom. From stress-free transfers to hotel check-ins and restaurant bookings, there is an experienced Travel Director to take care of everything you could ever need to make your trip unforgettable and, most importantly, enjoyable.
Firstly, arrive in San Diego International Airport, a transfer will be waiting to take you to the perfectly located hotel on the downtown waterfront InterContinental San Diego. This hotel is just moments away from popular landmarks such as Little Italy, the Coronado Bridge, and Seaport Village, you can experience everything San Diego has to offer before joining your Travel Director and other members of the group for a Welcome Dinner at Vistal Bar + Restaurant. Located right inside your hotel, it boasts thoughtfully sourced and curated menu offering the best of California.
The next day, discover America’s finest city as you embark on a sightseeing tour with your Travel Director. Journey through the Gaslamp Quarter, the historic heart of San Diego and Balboa Park, one of North America’s most iconic urban parks. Admire its landscaped gardens in bloom thanks to the year-round pleasant weather. Finally, stroll among the atmospheric old and historic adobe ranch homes of the Old Town State Historical Park. Glimpse into the 19th-century colonial life and perhaps try some authentic Mexican flavours at one of the popular eateries. This afternoon, board the Pacific Surfliner and enjoy far-reaching ocean views as the train hugs the coast. Travel through Orange County to the Mission Modern-style Union Station in Los Angeles. You will then check in and stay at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown situated within walking distance of the city’s most noteworthy attractions. As the tallest building west of Chicago, the brand new InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown forever elevates the city skyline. Featuring a 70th floor sky lobby and a myriad of culinary venues: La Boucherie, a Wine Spectator award-winning steakhouse; Sora, an upscale, intimate sushi restaurant; Dekkadance, an international market experience; and Spire 73 – the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere – located atop the 73rd floor. The hotel also offers an outdoor pool, executive-style gym with classes and steam rooms, and a signature Club InterContinental Lounge.
The next morning, an exciting day awaits as you set out to explore lively Los Angeles. Ride on the landmark Angel’s Flight funicular for a taste of early 20th-century nostalgia. Continue to the Los Angeles Theatre, inspired by French Baroque architecture, for a private guided tour. It has been closed to the public since 1994 but was once one of the grand movie palaces of the Broadway District. In legendary Hollywood, take your photos of the famous hillside Hollywood sign and stroll along the Walk of Fame. Look for the hand- and footprints of cinema’s greatest celebrities at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood’s most sought-after theatre for movie premieres.
In the afternoon, explore Los Angeles with Insight Choice. Choose to visit the innovative Petersen Automotive Museum, a captivating experience about the history and artistry of motorized transportation. Alternatively, head to the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and take a deep dive into the history of filmmaking. Another option is to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a fantastic collection of artworks from ancient times to modern day. To top off your perfect day, dine at Nick and Stef’s, an outstanding steak house in Downtown LA.
The next day, return to Union Station and board your Pacific Surfliner train. Travel through the valleys around Los Angeles before arriving at the coast where the shoreline wraps around to Santa Barbara. Spend time on State Street, a palm tree-lined avenue of shops and eateries before you further explore Santa Barbara with Insight Choice. Choose to visit the 18th-century Old Mission, one of the original 21 California Missions founded by Spanish Franciscans. Alternatively, take a relaxing stroll through the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and learn about California’s diverse native plants. Enjoy the relaxed luxury and natural beauty of the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Set across 8 Spanish-style buildings along the Pacific coastline and beautiful views, the serene resort has something for everyone.
The next day, you will take the Pacific Surfliner train from Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach. Enjoy stunning ocean views and lush farmlands as you head north into our final destination dotted with olive groves, vineyards, and orchards. Enjoy lunch along the coast on your own before you are treated to an olive oil farm tour and tasting experience. In the evening, discover why Pismo Beach is known as the Clam Capital of the world or relax and dine at your hotel, Vespera Resort, Pismo Beach.
After a refreshing night’s sleep it’s time to travel to the majestic Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stop at the Mariposa Grove, home to over 500 mature sequoias and admire these gigantic trees. The oldest tree in the Grove is the Grizzly Giant, which dates back around 3000 years and stands 209 feet (64 metres) tall. Once you’ve settled in to your hotel, enjoy a three-course dinner with wine in The Mountain Room at Yosemite Valley Lodge. Take in views of the nearly 2500 foot (762 metres) high waterfall while exploring diverse and sustainable menu offerings that include local, organic, and seasonal preparations.
The next morning, join a naturalist guide/climber and get familiar with the ins and outs of rock climbing. Take a step back and spend time watching experts in action. You can see climbers tackling some of the more than 60 routes up the granite monolith that is El Capitan. Widely considered the Mecca of the rock-climbing world, it was first ascended by Warren Harding in 1958. You’ll talk granite and gear, explore the science behind the emotions you feel when inching up a wall, and you will Make Travel Matter learning how climbers help preserve the vertical environment.
The next day, travel towards the West Coast, cross the Bay Bridge and arrive in buzzing San Francisco. Head to the Fisherman’s Wharf, once home to the city’s colourful fishing fleet and today a popular district full of restaurants, cafes and shops. This afternoon, join your Travel Director for a stroll across the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of California, then continue on a short drive to the quaint town of Sausalito. Enjoy some leisure time before taking the ferry back to San Francisco, passing the infamous Alcatraz Island. Hotel stay: Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, San Francisco. The 804-room hotel is the city’s only luxury waterfront hotel with breathtaking bay and city views. Ideally located for business and leisure, the hotel is located across the street from the renovated historical Ferry Building, in the Financial District and close to all major city attractions.
This morning, venture across the road and to the Ferry Building and shop around at one of America’s most famous farmers markets. Join a walking tour of Chinatown’s alleyways and learn about its history and cultural impact on the surrounding communities. Your participation in the tour supports a youth-led and youth-run organization promoting education, entrepreneurship, and tourism for underrepresented cultures. Browse the stalls offering organic produce, flowers and regional artisan specialties such as breads, cheeses, and jams. On your city sightseeing tour, journey past lively Union Square and vast Golden Gate Park. In the afternoon, we visit the oldest and largest Chinatown in the US on our Insight Experience. We take you off the main streets and into the alleyways to learn about the daily life, rich history, and modern-day issues of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Tours are led by Chinatown Alleyway Tours – a community based non-profit that is youth-run and youth-led. Tonight, toast to your travels at a local restaurant at your Celebration Dinner.
The next morning, bid farewell to your new traveller friends before heading on the transfer to San Francisco International Airport
Overall, this fabulous multicentre offer is the perfect way to experience the very best of California. From the dramatic, natural scenery in Yosemite National Park to the glimmering city skylines of San Francisco and Los Angeles and the idyllic views Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach , you will get a real flavour of Californian living. Including laid-back, relaxing days by the ocean and glamorous days in the cities, there’s always something new to discover in the ‘Golden State’. Call one of our travelplanners 020 3542 8888 to book this fantastic escorted tour offer today!