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Classic California Road Trip

San Francisco, Yosemite, Carmel, Santa Barbara & Santa Monica

California conjures visions of Hollywood stars and surfers, but that's just the surface; from soulful San Francisco, Yosemite's giant redwoods, endless coastal beaches, charming wine-country and LA family fun, the Golden State is one of great contrasts.

At a Glance

  • From wild national parks to theme parks, California offers the ultimate family vacation

  • Ideal from April through to September - popular Easter or summer vacation

  • Marine wonders await - kayak with sea lions, spot whales and dolphins, explore tide pools

  • A foodie's delight from Santa Barbara wine country to Santa Monica farmers' market

  • One of the most epic drives in the world

Family, Adventure, Teenagers, Couples

Insider's View

It's not a coincidence that Hollywood was born in California, contrasting landscapes lend themselves to movie sets from blue seas, towering mountains and desert dunes.

Maudie Tomlinson


Staying at family-friendly accommodation throughout, this epic family road trip along California's coast will take in all the sun-drenched highlights of the region as you enjoy the iconic drive along Big Sur, kayak with playful marine life and cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge. California has something to entertain the whole family, young and old, and a two-week road trip will leave you with lasting memories of America's golden state.

Starting at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, hop on board an iconic cable car, cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, visit Alcatraz Island, dine out in Chinatown or make a day-trip to the Napa Valley. Pick up your SUV and drive through goldrush country to Yosemite National Park to stay in a log-cabin among the Redwood trees, from where you can have a cook-out and spot deer and black bears if you're lucky. Hike to Glacier Point for sublime views or cycle through flower-strewn meadows. Next stop on this family road trip is Carmel Valley - have a bucket-and-spade day in Carmel-by-the-Sea, bike the 17-mile drive around Pebble Beach or kayak around the kelp forests in Monterey.

Next, follow the iconic Pacific Highway down Big Sur - snake through sea cliffs, beach towns and redwood forests as you head south to the Spanish mission town of Santa Barbara. Tucked between the Santa Ynez mountains, wine region and the ocean, its Mediterranean vibe has given Santa Barbara the title of the 'American Riviera'.

End in Los Angeles at stylish beachfront hotel Oceana Santa Monica located next to Santa Monica Pier - shop until you drop at Santa Monica Place, get the star treatment at Universal Studios and hike to the Hollywood sign to see LA sparkling at night.





Fly to San Francisco
3 nights

San Francisco, California

Ritz Carlton San Francisco
3 nights

Yosemite National Park

The Redwoods in Yosemite
2 nights

Carmel Valley, California

Carmel Valley Ranch
2 nights

Santa Barbara

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
3 nights

Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Oceana Santa Monica
1 night Fly home from Los Angeles

Location & Directions

San Francisco, Yosemite, Carmel, Santa Barbara & Santa Monica

Begin with a stay in San Francisco, exuding cool and offering up fantastic opportunities for exploration. Spend three nights at Ritz Carlton. Pick up your hire car and head to Yosemite, notable for its giant redwood trees and spectacular hiking, basing yourselves at The Redwoods. From here, drive south towards charming Carmel for a two-night stay at beautiful Carmel Valley Ranch. Santa Barbara is next on the agenda, where you will be based at the family-friendly Four Seasons. End in Santa Monica for a spot of beach time before flying home from Los Angeles.

When to go

During the summer, between June and September, California is at its peak but summer is fabulous for enjoying the beaches, enjoying alfresco dinners and attending festivals such as Santa Barbara's wine festival. In San Francisco, some warm clothes are always needed as thick summer fog can make the region surprisingly cold at night.

The shoulder seasons (March to May and September to November) expect sunny days, smaller crowds and better value.

Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

How to use our service

Browse our website for luxury travel ideas and vacation inspiration

Call us on +44 20 8682 5400 and speak to a destination specialist about what you want

Receive your bespoke vacation quote, then book online or over the phone

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We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary can be tweaked or transformed into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation to California.


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