Imagine California

San Francisco, Carmel Valley, Morro Bay & Santa Monica

From £3000 per person in low season
From £4200 per person in high season

based on 8 nights & selected experiences

Price Guide:

  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

* Pricing is a guideline only and excludes special offers. Travel over peak periods (e.g. Christmas, New Year and other public holidays) can affect prices considerably, as can exchange rates, flight class and room type.

Price includes:

  • International economy flights and taxes subject to availability

  • Accommodation

  • Car rental

  • Whale watching cruise in Monterey

  • Guided sunset kayaking in Morro Bay

Based on 2 people sharing.

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At a Glance

  • A shorter version of the classic route, ideal for families or couples

  • Visit both San Francisco and Los Angeles

  • Drive down the iconic Big Sur to explore secret beaches, watch sealions play, or hike inland through ancient redwood forests

  • Go to Disney or Six Flags while in L.A. or simply head down to hip Venice Beach

  • It can be cloudy in May and June, for all day sunshine travel August to October

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Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

The California coast has a year-round climate. Summer (June - September) is the peak-tourist season, this is when the weather is hottest but beaches and roads can be crowded. April and October are good times to visit for fewer crowds. May and June bring a morning marine layer, a cloudy overcast, fog-like cloud which can affect the beach in the mornings, but this usually clears in the afternoon. January and February are the rainiest months, and although still a spectacular drive and far less crowded,  the weather can be unpredictable.   

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Insider's View

If you get the chance, it's worth detouring off Big Sur a few miles inland to visit the opulent magnificence of Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst's extraordinary home near San Simeon.

We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. To start planning your holiday


This short California self-drive itinerary from San Francisco to Los Angeles down Big Sur offers iconic cities and world-famous coastal drives. Escape to the golden state for a family getaway and experience incredible family fun along the way.

  1. Days 1-3: San Francisco

    Your holiday starts in San Francisco, probably the USA’s most beautiful major city, breathtakingly situated overlooking San Francisco Bay with its Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. We would suggest two nights here to enjoy the city’s charms. Take a cable car ride up those steep hills and be sure to take the ferry ride out to Alcatraz Island to see Al Capone’s prison cell. Don’t ignore the surrounding areas though, you’ll find a picturesque Sausalito on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, with its beautiful yachts and cute cafes.

    Accommodation: Hotel Zetta (2 nights)

  2. Days 3-5: Monterey and Carmel

    Next, drive south a couple of hours to stay at the northern end of Big Sur in Carmel. Basing yourself at Carmel Valley Ranch, enjoy activities such as horseback riding, cycling, championship golf and exploring nearby Carmel-by-Sea. With its beautiful sandy beaches and charming shops and restaurants, Carmel is a favourite spot at the northern end of the Pacific Highway One. A very short drive away is Monterey Bay, a haven for wildlife from otters to whales and world-famous for its fantastic aquarium. It's a perfect place to get out on the water by kayak or boat, so we've included a whale watching trip so you can go in search of humpbacks and dolphins.

    Accommodation: Carmel Valley Ranch (2 nights)

  3. Days 5-6: Big Sur

    Next is the incredible journey along the Pacific Highway One. Drive down the sweeping coastline of Big Sur with its magnificent vistas of the Pacific Ocean, rugged coastal hills and remote beaches where sea lions play – truly one of the world’s great ocean drives. There are plenty of diversions to interesting places such as Hearst Castle near San Simeon and Julia Pfeiffer beach, so be sure to ask us about all the possibilities. Stay overnight in delightful Morro Bay at Big Sur’s southern end at the charming Anderson Inn, located on the waterfront with spectacular views of Morro Rock and the ocean. We've included a spectacular guided kayaking trip out in Morro Bay, one of our favourite experiences in California, you'll paddle in search of wildlife and enjoy pre-dinner drinks out on the sand dunes.

    Accommodation: Anderson Inn (1 night)

  4. Days 6-9: Santa Monica

    Last but not least is Santa Monica, where you will spend your final few nights before flying home. Do like the locals and hire rollerblades or a Segway to explore fascinating Venice Beach, or potter around some of the great farmers’ markets and buy a picnic to have on the beach. Head down to Anaheim for a day at the original Disney theme park, or go behind the scenes at Hollywood's Universal Studios. You can also spend a day visiting the sights of downtown Los Angeles, or hit the beach for a surf lesson in Santa Monica.

    Accommodation: Viceroy Santa Monica (3 nights)


San Francisco, Carmel Valley, Morro Bay & Santa Monica

Speak to our specialists 020 3993 8860

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We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. To start planning your holiday

Start planning now Speak to our specialists on 020 3993 8245 or start planning now Plan your trip