Depart London Heathrow – 15:05
Arrive Los Angeles – 16:40
Journey Time – 9 hours 35 minutes
Arrive in Seattle, located beautifully between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. We recommend you take one of the metered cabs from the airport to your Hotel (approximately $30) as you will be tired after your flight & a car is not required in this city. If you would like us to arrange for someone to meet you at the airport and provide a private transfer to your hotel, this can be done for an additional cost. Your downtown hotel for the next 2 nights is only minutes from the city’s greatest treasures. Get a good night sleep and be ready for tomorrow!
Overnight – Seattle
A full day in Seattle for seeing the sights. We suggest that the first thing you do this morning is to head down to the lively ‘Pike Place Market’, the oldest farmer’s market in the United States, where there are a huge range of restaurants and this is a great place to eat breakfast whilst either overlooking the sea or just watching the marketers set up their stalls. After breakfast, why not take a ‘Hop on, Hop off’ city tour (there is a stop just outside the Pike Place Market) – this, in our opinion, is one of the best ways to get your bearings in a new City. St
ops on the tour include the downtown shopping district, Seattle Centre, Waterfront and Pioneer Square.
Also, whilst in Seattle, the ‘Underground Tour’ is a must! Located just off Pioneer Square, this is a leisurely, guided walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. As you roam the subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, the guides regale you with the stories pioneers didn’t want you to hear. It’s history with a twist! Tonight you will spend a second night at your hotel in downtown Seattle.
Other options for your day in Seattle are :-
- Space Needle and Exhibition Park area
- Boat tour on Puget Sound/Elliot Bay/Union Lake
- The Museum of Flight and/or Boeing Factory
- Music Experience Museum
- Ferry tour to the San Juan Islands
- ‘Ride the Ducks’ (tour Seattle by land and water)
Overnight – Seattle
Seattle to Lake Crescent, Olympic N.P.
200 miles (reduced to 104 miles if you take the route including ferry)
This morning you will collect your car rental. We have arranged for you to collect it from a convenient downtown location rather than having to go back out to the airport, as is the case with many rental companies. Please ask about the additional cost for the in-car satellite navigation that will guide you along your route.
You can drive around the south end of the Sound, but the most fun and quickest way to access the Olympic Peninsula is by ferry across Puget Sound (Ferry journey is not included in prepaid costs but can be included at additional cost if required). The main attraction of the peninsula and your destination is the Olympic National Park offering incredible natural diversity and breathtaking scenery. The park is rich in plant species, native and endemic animals and is a beautiful setting for boating, hiking, beach combing and connecting with nature. As you enter the park you’ll have the chance to take the 17-mile drive to Hurricane Ridge. On a clear day you can see forever from the top of the ridge taking in majestic views of snowcapped peaks, glaciers and valleys. Wildlife is abundant in this area so keep your camera close. Your day ends on arrival to beautiful Lake Crescent tucked among the giant fir and hemlock trees where (weather permitting) from the cosy sun porch you’ll enjoy a spectacular sunset.
Overnight – Lake Crescent, Olympic N.P.(North)
Lake Crescent to Lake Quinault, Olympic N.P.
Today you travel within the Olympic National Park to Lake Quinault in the southwest region of the park. You have the change to visit Forks, WA the town the “Twilight” series is based upon and also the rainiest town in the contiguous United States. Continue to the Hoh Rainforest which is sure to be a highlight of your trip. There isn’t an inch of ground that isn’t covered with beautiful green plants. You’ll witness the rainforest unfold with 500 year old trees where with the help of 150” of rainfall per year timbers grow faster than anywhere else on earth. The moss hanging from the trees creates and eerie ambience and adds to the beauty of the forest. When you’ve seen enough green head south on 101 to the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean at Ruby’s Beach. Take off your shoes and wade in the water as you enjoy the spectacular coastline with the rocky sea stacks that jut upward all along the beach. Before arriving at the Lodge drive the very scenic 30-mile Quinault Rain Forest loop. Keep an eye out for wildlife as this area is home to elk, deer, bald eagles and even black bear. Step back in time as you arrive at the Lake Quinault Lodge and enjoy the tranquility of this lakeside setting.
Overnight – Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault, Olympic N.P.
Historic Lake Quinault Lodge is nestled in the rain forest overlooking Lake Quinault, just three hours from Seattle… and 80 years apart. Enjoy some short easy walks, curl up with a good book by the lake or if you’re feeling more energetic you can rent a boat and paddle on the lake. Interpretive tours can also be booked from the lodge. This evening enjoy a glass of local wine on the lawn of the resort as you watch the sun going down over this beautiful landscape (weather permitting).
David Mortimer – During our visit we received an activities schedule on arrival so we could choose what we wanted to do. It included 2 hour lake tours departing 3 times a day, a rain forest van tour for 3 hours departing twice a day and a 1.6 mile guided hike of moderate difficulty. You could also rent boats from the lake shore between 8am – 8pm and the campfire on the shore at 8.30pm with chairs provided was a great touch.
Overnight – Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault to Gleneden Beach
You’ll want an early start today as you travel south to Oregon. This morning we suggest a visit to the Long Beach Peninsula, the single longest stretch of uninterrupted sandy coastline on the west coast. Here you can visit Cape Disappointment State park where you can climb 2 lighthouses, view spectacular coastal scenery, explore an old military fort and visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Continue to the 6.5 km Astoria Megler Bridge spanning the mouth of the Columbia River connecting Washington to Oregon. Just south of Astoria you find Fort Clatsop, a replica of the original winter fort of Lewis & Clark. If you’ve never seen an American Army fort this is an interesting stop. The Oregon coastline offers miles and miles of spectacular scenery, tide pools, sea stacks and vertical rock formations. Check for low-tide at Cannon Beach so you can explore famous Haystack Rock rising 70 meters out of the sand. The Oregon coast also boasts a string of state parks and we encourage you to stop often to hike or soak in the beauty and tranquility of this amazing coastline.
Overnight – Gleneden Beach
Today is yours to enjoy at your leisure. Consider starting your day with a round of golf played on the top caliber par 71 course of the Salishan Resort offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Rentals and golf lessons are available but we suggest making an advance reservation. The resort also offers spa services, access to a private beach, an indoor pool, health club and hundreds of hike able acres. After a full day enjoy dinner in the resorts signature restaurant The Dining Room offering views of the Siletz Bay and Salishan Spit and one of the largest wine cellars in the state of Oregon.
Overnight – Gleneden Beach
Gleneden Beach to Eugene
Today we continue along the Oregon Coast passing the town of Newport, home of the Oregon Coastal Aquarium, one of the most popular attractions on the Oregon coast and home to more than 15,000 marine animals. We suggest about two hours at the Aquarium. Continuing south on 101 Cape Perpetua, a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a great stopping point. On a clear day take the side road up a couple kilometers to an incredible viewpoint.
Further south you reach Sea Lion Caves, one of the world’s largest sea caverns and home to hundreds of wild sea lions. It’s worth a trip up to the observation deck to get a look at these lazy mammals basking in the sun.
Leaving the coast this afternoon you drive east through the Southern Willamette Valley Region. Sip your way around the 16 wineries of Southern Willamette, with Eugene at its heart and you’ll discover a perfect cross-section of Oregon’s wineries. Eugene is noted for its natural beauty, recreational activities and its focus on the arts. Eugene’s slogan is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors”.
Overnight – Eugene
Eugene to Crater Lake N.P
Today you travel south on I5 to Roseburg a town of covered bridges and mid-1800’s restored homes. From Roseburg enter the Rogue- Umpqua Scenic Byway at Route 138. The forest thickens and soon you’ll hear the rush of water as you continue along this scenic byway. Check out the Colliding Rivers in the town of Glide, it’s one of the few places in the world where rivers meet head-on. You’ll pass half a dozen waterfalls on this byway and we strongly suggest visiting at least one. The waterfalls are accessible by well-marked and well-maintained trails. The much photographed Toketee Falls (a double waterfall) is well worth the half-mile hike and limited viewing platform. Route 138 leaves the North Umpqua River and turns south to Diamond Lake, a scenic gem nestled between Mt. Baily and the lightning-rod spire of Mt. Thielsen.
Continue to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park, a 1200 meter deep caldera which has filled with snow and rainfall to create the deepest lake in the United States. It’s hard to express the enormity and brilliance of this circular lake, bluer than the sky itself.
Duncan Harwood (Director – Complete North America) “We got back on the road and after stopping at the Diamond Lake lookout for a few more pictures we entered Crater Lake National Park (Fee $10). Crater Lake was formed when the volcano, Mt Mazama exploded 7700 years ago. Later rain fall and snow melt filled the crater with water to a depth of 1943 feet creating the deepest lake in North America and the 9th deepest in the world – Few though can be quite as beautiful as this… It takes you about 30 minutes to drive to the rim of the crater as you climb to a height of over 7000 feet – drive carefully, some of the drop offs at the side of the road might give you sweaty palms as your driving! Nothing prepared us for this site when we got to the rim and whilst I have not even looked at the pictures on my camera I know they will not do it justice – Put into context David said this made a bigger impact on him than seeing the Grand Canyon.. you just have to come and see it for yourself.”
Overnight – Crater Lake N.P.
Availability is limited at Crater Lake Lodge – so please book early to avoid disappointment. (We strongly recommend pre-booking dinner reservations at Crater Lake Lodge as the restaurant becomes extremely busy – please speak to us at time of booking).
Crater Lake National Park to Redding
Today we experience the Volcanic Legacy scenic byway as we make our way south to California. Travel through peaceful pastures as you reach Klamath Wildlife Refuge and Upper Klamath Lake. The lake and refuge attract more than 350 species of birds including sandhill cranes, American white pelicans and bald eagles. If you’re interested in experiencing Klamath Lake more closely you can find self-guided canoe trails at Upper Klamath Lake, Tule Lake and Klamath Marsh refuges. These areas are rich habitats for a vast numbers of plant and wildlife species. For bird and wildlife viewing early mornings are best so plan your day accordingly.
As you merge onto I5 you’ll soon be in sight of Mt. Shasta which on a clear day can be seen from 100 miles away. The mountain creates its own weather and is well known for its flying-saucer clouds that hover above the mountain. No wonder the mountain is rich in history of lore, myths and legends and believed by many to possess special spiritual aura. If the weather is clear take the exit toward Shasta Dam at the town of Shasta Lake. Enjoy a scenic drive to the lake and witness spectacular views of Shasta Lake, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.
As you arrive to Redding make time for a visit to Turtle Bay and the Sundial Bridge. This unique bridge is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is the largest working sundial in the world! Your overnight accommodation is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Redding.
Overnight – Redding
Redding to Sacramento
It will take you about two hours on I5 to reach Sacramento. If you prefer a two hour detour take Highway 299 out of Redding as far as Whiskey Town Lake. This is an old mining area with nice views and great hiking trails. Once you arrive in Sacramento head to the State Capital building, park your car and walk through the State Capital Gardens. These gardens have specimens of every plant native and transplanted that grows in California.
Old Town Sacramento, a replica of the style of Sacramento during the Gold Rush, is a great spot for lunch and souvenir shopping. Also at Old Town is the California Railroad Museum with a full history of the development of the railroad across America.
Duncan Harwood (Director – Complete North America): “We visited Old Sacramento where it all began during the gold rush down on the banks of the American River. Sacramento sits on the confluence of the Sacramento and American River. The depth of these rivers allowed the shipping industry to flourish as they moved in from the Bay of San Francisco to supply the every growing Gold Rush era… Old Sacramento is now a State Historic site and you will appreciate walking street after street of historic old buildings along the planked sidewalks. The area now hosts many shops and restaurants for you to visit and the much acclaimed California State Railroad Museum, just one of at least a dozen museums in the area including those relating to the history of the Gold Rush. The Railroad museum is definitely worth a visit, allow a couple of hours to appreciate the fantastic exhibits and learn about this key part of American history.”
Overnight – Sacramento
Today is free to enjoy this capital city. A variety of day tours are available to historic areas throughout the Sacramento area including white water river rafting and wine tasting. Bicycle trails abound along the scenic Sacramento River and your hotel can assist you with rentals.
Duncan Harwood (Director – Complete North America) “Sacramento is a great place to cycle with cycle lanes on many streets and signs for the cycle route. You can get supplied with a map to to follow around town and see all the sites and some of the beautiful neighbourhoods. Sacramento is famous for its tree lined streets, a smart move by the city planners at the turn of the century to provide shade form the midday sun… We continued on our bike ride which was really great and non took taxing. Our stop at the impressive Capitol Building was probably the highlight. Here you can go in and wander through the corridors of power in the state capitol and sit in on the Senate and Assembly going about their daily business – A bit like sitting in on the House of Parliament.. Very interesting and whilst we did not find Arnie this is a visit we highly recommend and you should allow about an hour.”
Overnight – Sacramento
Sacramento to San Francisco
A visit to Northern California would not be complete without seeing the wine country of Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Drive to the town of Sonoma and enjoy lunch and some wine tasting in this historic town. As you leave Sonoma you’ll pass some well known wineries that will be open for wine tasting. Approaching San Francisco you’ll see exits for Sausalito, a picturesque waterfront community of quaint shops and restaurants offering iconic views of the San Francisco skyline (weather permitting).
Just before crossing the bridge enter the visitor parking area where you can take pictures and walk out onto the bridge. Back in your car continue across the bridge to your hotel – your home for the next 2 nights. Here you are within walking distance to Union Square, North Beach, Chinatown and other attractions… a great hub for discovering this beautiful City by the Bay.
Return your car to the downtown rental depot this afternoon as a car is not required in this ‘walking city’ (and you will only pay high parking fees to park your car at the hotel). Please note that a one-way car rental drop off fee ($300 plus tax) is payable locally on this itinerary when you return the vehicle in San Francisco.
Overnight – San Francisco
A full day to explore San Francisco: Union Square, Nob Hill, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park. Enjoy a breathtaking ride on a cable car, rent a bike, take a bay cruise. Also available are Hop-on Hop-Off tours that take you to all points of interest in and around San Francisco.
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!
Overnight – San Francisco
Depart San Francisco
Today your adventure comes to an end with your departure flight.
As hotel check-out time is 11:00 am you can leave your bags with the hotel bell-desk while you do any last minute shopping or sightseeing. Take a cab from your hotel to the airport (approx $30 – not inluded in prepaid cost) before checking in for your flight home.