CLASSIC CALIFORNIA FAMILY ROAD TRIP

Family Fun on Highway One

California

Duration: 14 nights

Price: From £4,950 per person in low season based on two adults and two children under 12 travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation, private transfers, car hire and taxes

Highway One is among the most iconic roads in the USA, and this luxury family road trip holiday will see you exploring some of its highlights. Beginning in the vibrant San Francisco, you’ll take in the beautiful scenery of the central coast at Carmel and Morro Bay, where you can see whales, sea lions and otters, before camping in Santa Barbara and finishing up in culture-rich San Diego.
Perfect forFamilies with kids of all ages who are looking for an active Californian adventure.
In the knowWhy not extend your stay and add on a couple of nights in Yosemite National Park, staying in a log cabin surrounded by redwood trees.

Best for

  • Family-friendly
  • First-timers
  • Road Trip
  • Landscapes & Scenery

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This itinerary is just a starting point. Tell us your budget/wishlist/preferred length of stay and we'll help you select the best hotels and experiences, so your holiday is totally personalised.

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Itinerary details

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3 nightsSAN FRANCISCO

Your family Highway One adventure begins in San Francisco, birthplace of the hippie movement and still an icon of American counterculture. It’s also a great destination for kids of all ages, with a range of activities on offer that are both fun and educational. Nowhere is this more the case than at the Exploratorium, an interactive museum where science and art come together in exhibitions on diverse topics from skateboarding to particle physics.

Head to Pier 39 to see throngs of wild sea lions, who mysteriously began flocking to the area to sunbathe in 1989, or enjoy a picnic and a game of beach volleyball on Baker Beach. For a touch of history, head to the colourful Victorian streets of Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippie movement in the 1960s, or City Lights bookstore, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Your home for three nights is the Fairmont San Francisco, found between the affluent Nob Hill and buzzing Chinatown.
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2 nightsCARMEL

Departing San Fran, you’ll hit the road for the approximately two hour drive to Carmel, a coastal city in Monterey County famed for its natural scenery and rich artistic heritage. Carmel began as a planned seaside resort in the 1880s and quickly established a reputation as a bohemian retreat. Its artistic flavour survives in the many galleries that line the town’s immaculate streets (which number over 100), but these days ‘wealthy’ and ‘bourgeois’ are just as descriptive. Carmel, with its picturesque homes, impressive coastal frontage and upscale shopping, makes for a wonderful getaway. 

For a marine wildlife fix, head to the nearby aquarium at Monterey, which is ethically run and is home to countless weird and wonderful creatures of the deep. It is also the setting of John Steinbeck’s famous novel Cannery Row. Your hotel is Carmel Valley Ranch, a luxurious resort which is great for children; the Ranch Hands Kids Camp caters for kids from ages 2-12, with a variety of different activities for different age groups. Whale watching is another great family activity in Monterey, which welcomes humpbacks, killer whales and dolphins to its bay year-round.

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2 nightsMORRO BAY

After two nights in Carmel, you’ll take to the road again for the 2.5-hour drive down the coast to Morro Bay. You will drive along the Big Sur which is the most famous part of Highway One, where the volcanic Morro Rock which rises dramatically from the ocean in the harbour. Anderson Inn is one of the most charming boutique hotels you’ll ever stay at. Family-run and friendly, it’s a great place to do as much or as little as you choose, whether that’s relaxing or enjoying the range of outdoor activities for which this stretch of the coast is famous. 

Guided kayak tours leave regularly from Morro Bay State Park Marina, and are a great way to get to know the wildlife that live around the harbour, including whales, sea lions, sea otters, and rare species of seabird. Guided bike trips are also available, taking in the Pacific Coast Highway, and the wine regions of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. It’s also a beautiful region to hike, with guided nature routes in the Pfeiffer National Park. 
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2 nightsSANTA BARBARA

After enjoying the great outdoors in Morro Bay, it’s time for a return to city life in Santa Barbara, around two hours’ drive south. With its Spanish Mission-style architecture, beautiful weather and rich cultural history, Santa Barbara offers something a little different from the stereotypical coastal Californian cities. Heaven on earth is a place called the Ritz-Carlton Bacara – which will be your home throughout your stay. With an oceanfront pool, a prime location in the wine country and Spanish colonial villas, it is a lavish home away from home.

The city’s main attractions, 20 minutes from the hotel, include the Mission Santa Barbara, an 18th-century Spanish Franciscan outpost and a great example of the white-walled, red-roofed Mission style architecture which still defines the city today. Kids will love the Ty Warner Sea Center, where they can see and interact with all kinds of marine creatures.
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 3 nightsSANTA MONICA

As you near LA you will see many Rolls Royces parked in immaculate driveways and red-carpeted hotels. Why not stop off on the way at glamorous Malibu, where A-list celebrities live in impressive houses? Boasting a smorgasbord of restaurants and cool attractions, Santa Monica is known for its lively and hippie-chic beach scene. With its iconic red and yellow Ferris wheel, its famous pier, which has featured in many Hollywood films (like Forrest Gump), is where most of the action happens.

There, you’ll find an amusement park, as well as restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Palisades Park, a cypress-tree-lined pathway at the top of Ocean Avenue’s sandstone bluffs, is a popular place for a stroll. From there, you can head to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. You’ll be staying at Casa del Mar, which has Mediterranean-style beachfront villas overlooking the Pacific surf.
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3 nightsSan Diego

On the way from LA to San Diego, you'll pass many stunning beaches including surfing haven Laguna Beach. With over 60 beaches, a 1,200-acre urban park, beautiful gardens and a bustling downtown, San Diego is the perfect family destination. It has a year-round sunny climate, signature Cali Baja cuisine, incredible art scene and a vast harbour. The Balboa Park is a cultural hub and one of the most popular attractions for families, with 17 museums, eight gardens, an archery range, velodrome and lots of green spots for picnics. You’ll be staying at the historic Hotel del Coronado (or ‘The Del’ as it is also known), a favourite of Marilyn Monroe’s. It is a perfect base for water-based activities such as sailing, surfing and paddle boarding, with fire pits on the hotel’s private beach for s’mores under a starry sky.  
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