Arrive in San Diego
Tour begins at The US Grant hotel at 5:30 PM. A transfer is included from San Diego International Airport to the US Grant hotel, a sumptuously restored city icon since 1910. Join us in celebrating your arrival in this Southern California mecca of palm trees, Mediterranean weather, miles of beaches and casualness with a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel.
City life & more in eclectic San Diego
Your day includes an insider guided tour of the renowned San Diego Zoo, and an entertaining and educational city tour, taking in the eclectic Gaslamp Quarter, where a mix of Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers offer cultural, dining and downtown-living options, and the gorgeous harbor area. At Point Loma, where the first European expedition landed on the coast of California in 1542, you'll find a peninsula known today for luxurious neighborhoods on the Bay side and pounding surf and tide pools on the Pacific Ocean side. Continuing on to the Juan Cabrillo National Monument, you'll discover a national park offering unforgettable views of both the city's natural surroundings and skyline. At Seaport Village, the visual pleasures are joined by live music, street artists and dining options, where you'll have time to explore on your own. Evening kicks off with a champagne reception and dinner aboard a private yacht; enjoy a private cruise of San Diego harbor for Tauck guests only. insider guided tour of the renowned San Diego Zoo. Then enjoy an entertaining and educational city tour, taking in the eclectic Gaslamp Quarter, where a mix of Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers offer cultural, dining and downtown-living options, and the gorgeous harbor area. At Point Loma, where the first European expedition landed on the coast of California in 1542, you'll find a peninsula known today for luxurious neighborhoods on the Bay side and pounding surf and tide pools on the Pacific Ocean side. Continuing on to the Juan Cabrillo National Monument, you'll discover a national park offering unforgettable views of both the city's natural surroundings and skyline. At Seaport Village, the visual pleasures are joined by live music, street artists and dining options, where you'll have time to explore on your own. Evening kicks off with a champagne reception and dinner aboard a private yacht; enjoy a private cruise of San Diego harbor for Tauck guests only.
A historic mission & on to LA's hot spots
Heading north towards Los Angeles, your first stop is at the restored Mission San Juan Capistrano, a "jewel of the missions," founded in 1776 by Padre Junipero Serra. Built as a vast quadrangle of adobe bricks, the mission was self-sufficient - housing provisions, gardens, workrooms and living and dining spaces for priests, local Indian converts and soldiers. Although the Mission's Great Stone Church tragically collapsed in the earthquake of 1812, the Serra Chapel - containing a gold-leafed retablo carved by Spanish artisans behind the altar - remains, along with the legendary swallows who return to the mission grounds each March from their winter home in Argentina. Arrive in Los Angeles, where time for lunch and a little exploring on your own follows; one option might be the Los Angeles Farmers Market, where fresh produce stands, shops and restaurants have made this a perfect destination for great dining and people watching since 1934. From here, a city tour offers an overview of this diverse metropolis including Beverly Hills and the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, where celebrity autographs, handprints and footprints - even Jimmy Durante's nose - are immortalized in concrete. Dinner tonight is at leisure at your Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.
From "The Getty" in LA to graceful Santa Barbara
A visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, perched above Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, brings together the disparate elements of the Los Angeles landscape: ocean, mountains and the urban street grid. Together they were the inspiration for this modernist complex of curvilinear design and natural gardens, designed by architect Richard Meier. Inside, on a self-guided tour, you'll find easy inspiration in its collections of European paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography - along with the views. From the museum, your California odyssey heads north to Santa Barbara, where Sunday afternoons mean a beachside tradition of eclectic arts and crafts shows, produced strictly by local artists. Enjoy a stroll under the palms and along picturesque Stearns Wharf, where pelicans put on a show of their own, before checking into your resort. Dinner is at leisure in your choice of resort restaurants.
Savoring Santa Barbara, the "American Riviera"
On a city tour, you'll get a feel for the quiet Santa Barbara beach community that's long been a celebrity hideaway, with a stop to tour the city's still-functioning 1929 Courthouse. The Spanish-Moorish structure is surrounded by lush gardens. Inside you'll find a Mural Room depicting scenes of the community's past, masterfully painted by a largely self-taught artist whose illustrations appeared in the novels of Joseph Conrad and Jack London. Next, a visit to the graceful Mission Santa Barbara introduces this city icon - a still-active Franciscan parish after 225 years. After a downtown lunch, you'll have time to take advantage of your lovely oceanfront resort or perhaps explore Santa Barbara's downtown district.
Wine country and scenic highway 101
Get ready for scenic delights as you pass through rolling hills on this morning's road trip along coastal Highway 101. Entering the Central California wine region, you'll find microclimates where morning fog and ocean breezes encourage varieties such as pinot noir and chardonnay, and others where low-lying mountains are ideal for full-bodied reds - as you'll learn on a vineyard tour and tasting. Discover scenic Solvang, with its distinctive Danish heritage, the backdrop of the wine-lover's film, Sideways. Continue on to Pismo Beach, known for its long white beaches and ocean views. The evening is spent at The Cliffs Resort, a fabulous hotel overlooking the Pacific in Pismo Beach.
Coastal drama from Hearst Castle to Big Sur
Morning begins with a guided walking tour at Hearst Castle, a national and California Historical Landmark in San Simeon. This elaborate estate, created for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, takes you back to an early-20th-century era of opulent entertaining - and inspired the fictional paradise of Xanadu, featured in Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane. Afterward, nature's opulence impresses as you drive along the famed Big Sur Coast. Breathtaking sights continue as you travel Highway 1, following the drama of the Pacific Coast Highway from hundreds of feet above powerfully crashing surf and magnificently remote, rocky beaches. Continue on to the small coastal city of Monterey, where you'll dine at leisure at your hotel on pristine Monterey Bay.
The Monterey Peninsula & Carmel-by-the-Sea
Today's tour of the Monterey Peninsula encompasses the beauty of Pacific Grove, famed 17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach, before arriving in Carmel by the Sea, called one of the "most romantic cities of the world" by Travel + Leisure. Enjoy time to explore and find an appealing spot for lunch, before heading off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The award-winning exhibits at the aquarium offer an amazing learning experience - you'll discover the unexpected delights of marine life, from cuttlefish to whales and other ocean critters.
Through California's Central Valley to Yosemite
Agriculture takes center stage today as you leave the coast and drive through the farms, orchards and vineyards of California's expansive Central Valley to your final destination, Yosemite National Park. Abundant sunshine, superb soil, and year-round growing conditions make this region an incredibly important crop-basket for American households; produce including broccoli, chard, asparagus, pistachios, pomegranates and many other varieties are grown here. After lunch in Merced, your route continues from the valley to the oak-lined roadways and Victorian-era towns of porches, storefronts and saloons of Gold Country. In 1848, news of this precious metal spread like wildfire, leading to explosive population growth. First came the men, seeking their fortune in mining; the merchants, bankers and women followed, catering to their needs. At the Mariposa Museum & History Center, you'll stop to learn about the lives of those miners and others who shaped this area. Late afternoon, you'll arrive at Yosemite National Park, where you'll spend the next two nights at the historic Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Wonders of Yosemite National Park
Sometimes called a "freak of nature," Yosemite Valley is only seven miles long and less than a mile wide. Yet contained within its sheer, high walls is an array of astonishing natural treasures: world-famous cliffs like El Capitan and Half Dome; plunging waterfalls like Bridalveil Falls; wildly peaceful meadows; the meandering Merced River, and so much more. Get acquainted with the valley's treasures on a morning walk guided by a naturalist, then spend the rest of the day exploring Yosemite National Park as you please.
Historic Jamestown & on to San Francisco
On your way from Yosemite to the incomparable city by the bay, visit Jamestown for lunch at the historic National Hotel built during the height of the Gold Rush period. Our memorable California tour arrives in San Francisco late this afternoon, with time to rest, relax, or explore the landmark area surrounding Union Square. Your hotel is in a vibrant retail and cultural area in the heart of the city - and at your doorstep you'll discover a favorite city square where you might just see musicians, artists, or speakers doing what they do best. We invite you to join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel in the heart of San Francisco.
Tour ends: San Francisco. Fly home anytime. A transfer from The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square to the San Francisco International Airport is included. Allow a minimum of two hours for flight check-in.