San Francisco Arrival
Depart London Heathrow – 10:40
Arrive San Francisco – 13:35
Journey Time – 10 hours 55 minutes
On arrival we recommend that you DO NOT collect your car as you will be tired and will only pay high fees to park the vehicle during your 3 days in the city. We have therefore included a coach transfer from the airport to your San Francisco hotel. If you do prefer to collect your vehicle upon arrival into San Francisco or would like us to arrange private transportation for you to your hotel, this can be done for an additional cost.
Overnight – San Francisco
Suggested activities (Not included in pre-paid cost)
This morning we suggest you take a city tour – especially if this is your first time to this fabulous city as it will allow you to get your bearings.
Enjoy a quick 10-minute ferry ride to the centre of the San Francisco harbour to the infamous former prison island – Alcatraz. The visit includes a taped tour of the prison (once home to such famous criminals as gangster Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly”). Note: We strongly suggest that you pre-book this very popular Alcatraz tour which in our opinion is not to be missed – let us know at time of booking. Do book early to avoid disappointment!
Seafood dinner at one of many restaurants along the waterfront or at one of the trendy restaurants in the SoMa (South of Market) area! After dinner, enjoy a musical show, an American Conservatory Theatre performance or a comedy club, and a nightcap in one of the many rooftop cocktail lounges.
Overnight – San Francisco
Take a tour to Muir Woods, a forest of giant California redwood trees – some of the biggest trees in the world. On the way back, stop for lunch and shopping in the beautiful little town of Sausalito. Return to San Francisco by ferry or by bus; or take a walking tour of Chinatown with a dim sum lunch.
Free afternoon to shop! Explore Union Square’s department stores, small boutiques and art galleries; visit the neighbourhood shopping areas South of Market or Union Street; take a five-minute walk from downtown to the Embarcadero Centre, a three-level, four-building complex of 150 shops. Shop at the many complexes in the Fisherman’s Wharf area such as PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square and The Cannery and enjoy the musicians and street performers. Take a jeep tour of the area, or rent a bike and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and ferry back to San Francisco.
San Francisco has over 3,000 restaurants! Take your choice: For instance, an authentic Chinese banquet in Chinatown – the largest Asian settlement outside of mainland China, an elaborate Korean barbecue or an Italian feast in The City’s Italian section, called “North Beach” or how about a dinner cruise on San Francisco Bay. Enjoy dinner and dancing to a live band as you cruise past The City’s famous skyline at sunset.
San Francisco is one of our favourite cities in the whole of North America & we would not recommend you spending any less than 3 nights in the city if this is your first visit. None of the tours or attractions mentioned in our suggested itinerary are included in your tour price, however, we would be very happy to make these arrangements on your behalf (subject to availability). In particular, as we have mentioned above, your visit to Alcatraz – as the ferry to the island can often be booked up days, or even weeks, in advance during the height of the season.
There are numerous festivals going on throughout the year in San Francisco, art, film and dance festivals and this is in addition to a packed sport scene, which includes the world famous San Francisco 49’ers. We are happy to help our customers with purchasing tickets and advising on events taking place during your stay, please ask for details.
Overnight – San Francisco
San Francisco to Monterey
Today you will collect your rental car. We have arranged for you to collect it from a convenient downtown location rather than having to go back out to the airport (**). Please ask about the additional cost for the in-car satellite navigation that will guide you along your route.
(**) Note: During the busy months of July & August experience has taught us to suggest that you collect your vehicle from San Francisco airport location rather than downtown to avoid potential long delays at the downtown rental station (a metered cab out to the airport will cost you approx. $40-$45).
For the short journey to the south of San Francisco we suggest you travel across town to pick up route US-1 South as this will take you along the more scenic coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean. The route will pass many of the more popular California State Park and Beach areas as you travel to Santa Cruz. Here you may wish to pick up a local guidebook for touring among the historic district and Harbour. The route will now pass around the Monterey Bay to the community of Monterey. Your hotel is located next to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium in the heart of John Steinbeck’s historic Cannery Row.
This afternoon you may wish to take the short trip down to the charming coastal town of Carmel. Watch for the signs for the 17-Mile Scenic Drive (fee area). Although there is a fee to drive along this route, the ocean views and opulent lifestyle of this region is worth paying to see. The route will bring you out into the heart of Carmel where you may wish to check out the many “high end boutiques” or visit Carmel Beach – repeatedly voted one of the top beaches in the country.
Note: If you would prefer to spend this night in Carmel rather than in Monterey please do let us know.
Overnight – Monterey
Monterey to Yosemite National Park
This morning we suggest a short detour to the south along US-1 to see one of the most famous bridges along the west coast near to the area of Big Sur. This will be about a 70 mile very scenic round trip drive as you will need to return to Carmel and Monterey to proceed across the state to Merced and following the Merced River you climb into the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range as you close in on Yosemite National Park. The Big Sur area is really quite beautiful so you may well wish to take a short walk whilst here.
Yosemite National Park is popular and with limited lodging it is really important to book as early as you can. We have used just a few of the lodges in this region for many years now as we can rely on them to offer a good standard of accommodation and a super location. It’s important your time is spent enjoying the park, not travelling to and from each day.
Depending on your arrival time you may wish to drive into the main Valley Area (about 20 minutes from the entrance). We suggest stopping and hiking to Bridalveil Falls and then proceeding up the route to the south entrance to the overlook that will give you a good view back into the main Yosemite Valley.
Please note: Adverse weather conditions during the winter and spring months mean that we will have to alter your route slightly as the Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park remains closed from October to May/June dependant on the Spring Thaw. Areas around Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon are likely to be cold and snowfall is common during the winter months. The closure of Tioga pass will mean amending your route which will add considerable miles/time on to your journey from Yosemite to Death Valley. We therefore suggest inserting a one night stop-over (between Yosemite & Death Valley) in Bakersfield (staying at the Doubletree Hotel) & in order to keep your total holiday duration at 14 nights we therefore suggest reducing your stay at the Grand Canyon from 2 nights to 1 night. For further clarification of this part of the CNA Western fly drive during Winter & Spring, please do consult with a member of our team.
Overnight – El Portal, Yosemite
Yosemite National Park
A full day for exploring and sightseeing in the main valley of the Yosemite Park. We suggest to first stop at the park visitor centre to pick up the latest information on hiking and other activities for this day. You will find many short hikes, but do suggest you take along water and snacks as there is nothing available along the main trails.
Yosemite National Park is one of the best known parks in the world, consisting of huge waterfalls, granite domes and peaks, wildflowers, meadows and forests of centuries-old sequoias, glacier-carved canyon and massive monoliths, A pair of waterfall cascades into a 20-mile long, half-mile wide and 1,000-foot deep canyon of eroded yellow stone.
The Tioga Road, California 120, crosses the Tuolumne Meadows and High Country. The highway, originally built as a mining road in 1182-3, was realigned and modernized in 1961. The road passes through an area of sparkling lakes, fragile meadows, domes, and lofty peaks that only 10,000 years ago lay under glacial ice. Scenic turnouts along the road afford superb views. At Tioga Pass the road crosses the Sierras crest at 9,945 feet, the highest automobile pass in California.
Yosemite Valley has sheer walls and a flat floor formed by alpine glaciers. You will see such amazing sights as El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks. The most rugged section of Yosemite is Tuolumne Meadows and the High Country. Bridalveil Falls is a must it cascades 620 feet and Yosemite Falls is the tallest is the world. Visit Half-Dome, elevation 8, 842 feet, an 87 million-year-old rock dome and is Yosemite’s most famous monument.
Yosemite National Park is also home to the largest stand of giant sequoias trees and home of the Grizzly Giant, one of the oldest giant sequoias in the world
Why not treat yourself to an incredible experience by hiring a private guide for a personalised hike?
On this two-hour tour, Rangers introduce some of Yosemite’s most famous sightseeing points in Yosemite Valley (You Will See: Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tunnel View, Bridalveil Falls and more) and describe the history, geology, plant and animal life of the region. This year-round Yosemite Valley Floor tour provides a fuller knowledge and enjoyment of the park. Open-air trams operate from late Spring through early Fall. Late October through April, ride in an enclosed and heated motor coach with large windows allowing unimpeded views of Yosemite’s famous sights. Bring your camera along for postcard-perfect pictures. Book this Tour locally with The Rangers in the Park (Subject to Availability)
Alternatively, you could take a Guided ‘Yosemite Valley Floor Tour’ (2 hours)
These hikes are designed specifically for you, based on your interests and ability. The guides will go at your pace, whether that is a stroll with children across a meadow, or a marathon day to the summit of Half Dome. The experienced local hiking guides are a wealth of information about Yosemite so that you can learn about what you are interested in – history, geology, or even figuring out what you want to do and see for the rest of your visit. Prices start from approximately £95.00 per person (based upon 2 people travelling) for a private guide for half a day (4 hours) & we do highly recommend that you pre-book this when you confirm your holiday with us.
Or you may prefer specialist guided photography hikes which will cost – Approximately £170.00 for 1 person, $140.00 per person for 2 people – please ask our team for more details.
Overnight – El Portal, Yosemite
Yosemite National Park to Death Valley
Start early today, whilst 310 miles does not seem a lot the stunning drive will take time and today is a full day for sure. You will leave your lodging and re-enter the park once again this morning but take the route to the north (before the main valley) and then the drive over the Tioga Pass and across to the East Park Entrance. Here you will pick up the route of US-395 South heading towards your overnight stop in the heart of Death Valley.
Death Valley is a land of complete extremes. It is one of the hottest places on the surface of the earth with summer temperatures averaging well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It encompasses the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and is the driest place in North America. The valley is also a land of subtle beauties, morning light creeping across the eroded badlands of Zabriskie Point to strike Manly Beacon, the setting sun and lengthening shadows of the sand dunes at Stovepipe Wells and the colours of the wildflowers on the golden hills above Harmony Borax, Death Valley is a truly unique place and a complete contrast to what you have left behind at Yosemite.
Overnight – Death Valley
Death Valley to Las Vegas
There is some sightseeing to do in the Death Valley area this morning, mainly to the south before heading east into the state of Nevada. Here you may take a more northern route into Lathrop Wells, or a southern route that will bring you into Pahrump. Either route will allow you to travel around the Toiyabe National Forest and into the city of Las Vegas.
There really is so much to do and see in Las Vegas that on leaving Death Valley we recommend you make a beeline for the bright lights to make the most out of your 2 nights there.
Overnight – Las Vegas
A full day to enjoy the sights and attractions of this most exciting city.
During you day be sure to catch the Volcano Fountain eruption every 15 minutes, the fountain show on the lake at Bellagio, also every 15 minutes, take a gondola ride at the Venetian, take a ride up to the observation deck on the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel, take the Big Shot ride atop the Stratosphere Tower, Bungy jump at Circus Circus Hotel, visit the amazing Fremont Street experience, take a trip out to see the Hoover Dam or maybe even book a helicopter trip to fly over the Grand Canyon or if shopping is important to you there are two Premium Outlet Stores within 3 miles of the strip – both offer amazing prices for the latest designer brands.
As your day nears an end choose from the endless choices of places to eat before finishing the night off at one of the world class shows that entertain nightly across the city that never sleeps.
Overnight – Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
Head out early this morning for a long but spectacular day of driving. First head south and over the Hoover Dam. If you have not already visited this engineering feat then stop and take the guided tour otherwise continue on across the dam and into the state of Arizona. Now you will be crossing the high desert lands as you head towards the community of Kingman and then on to Williams. Another option but somewhat slower is to take the old Route 66 through Peaches Springs which will eventually bring you out onto the same Interstate route to Williams. This is one of the few remaining sections of the famed highway from Chicago to L.A. Continue north finally reaching the awesome destination that is the Grand Canyon.
Overnight – Tusayan, Grand Canyon
Take a full day to explore the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. First stop should be the Visitor Centre located at the South Rim Village. Here you can pick up information on short hikes, special areas that you may wish to visit during the day and helicopter or airplane rides over the Grand Canyon. A visit to see the El Tovar Lodge if you are not staying there is a must, but we also suggest any of the scenic stops or even taking one of the guided coach tours that will explain the history and geology of the area. Another must is a visit to the IMAX Theatre located close to your hotel for a thrilling 3D show based around the Grand Canyon.
We strongly suggest you that spend one of your evenings and maybe even an early morning at the Grand Canyon Rim to experience the spectacular sunrise and sunset.
Overnight – Tusayan, Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon to Lake Havasu City, AZ
Today you leave the Grand Canyon and head through Williams and Kingman on to ‘Arizona’s Playground’ – Lake Havasu City. The off-roading, ultralight-flying, speed boating, rock climbing capitol of the Southwest! It’s also a great place to kick back, relax and watch the world pass by.
The lake, being the largest man-made lake in North America, sits along the Colorado river where you can also visit the London Bridge which was transported out to Lake Havasu from London in 1968 after being bought at auction by the founder of Lake Havasu City. The bridge was re-constructed brick by brick over the next 3 years and opened in 1971 linking the mainlan
d to a small island in the Colorado River.
Overnight – Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu City to San Diego
From Lake Havasu City you continue south along the route of AZ-95, which follows the Colorado River, and you will pass the Colorado River Indian Reservation. You will then pick up Interstate 10 which will take you into the state of California and en route to San Diego you will pass by Joshua Tree National Park where you have the option to take a loop drive through the park to Twentynine Palms and then back onto I-10 near Palm Springs.
Head south to San Diego with its 75 miles of coastline and reliably sunny weather. The city is also home to museums, a world-renowned zoo, theme parks, famous golf courses, and a lively theatre scene, as well as great food, shopping and nightlife in the historic downtown quarter.
Overnight – Los Angeles
As one of the United States’ top tourist destinations, San Diego is a year-round paradise. Located in sunny Southern California, it boasts an average temperature of 72 degrees, promoting a lifestyle of sports and leisure. From sailing on the San Diego Bay to golfing on a world-famous course to wine tasting in nearby Temecula Valley, the city offers endless options to escape, energise and discover.
You can relax on one of the fabulous beaches, hop on a tour bus and see the whole city, visit Old Town, Balboa Park, Seaport Village or the Gaslamp Quarter. Scoot around in a GoCar – the first-ever GPS-guided tour throughout the city. And for the all-out adventurer, San Diego offers scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, skydiving, eco-tours, guided trail rides – you name it.
An urban paradise for all ages, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see in Southern California. Spend the day monkeying around as you visit amazing habitats for animals such as gorillas, tigers, sun bears, flamingos, mandrills, polar bears, birds of paradise, giant tortoises, leopards and more. Or take a trip to SeaWorld® San Diego – experience the amazing Shamu show and thrilling rides. Dive into the world of sea turtles at Turtle Reef, feed and touch dolphins, and get up-close to beluga whales, polar bears, sharks and penguins.
If you’re looking for some retail therapy, San Diego is the perfect place to indulge. Shopping can be enjoyed outdoors in San Diego, where open-air malls and shopping centers beam with sunshine throughout the year. From luxury brand storefronts, unique boutiques, vintage shops and antique malls, if you’re looking to make some investments or just browsing for inspiration, there’s plenty of places to exercise your stroll, and your wallet!
Overnight – San Diego
Departure San Diego
Today sees the conclusion to your discovery tour of the western United States. As your flight does not depart until this evening you still have time to do some last minute shopping or maybe just relax and soak up the last few rays in the California sunshine before you return your rental car to the airport and check-in for your flight back to the U.K.
Depart San Diego – 20:25
Arrive London Heathrow – 14:45 (Next day)
Journey time – 10 hours 20 minutes