Exploring San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite & Carmel


Duration: 11 nights

Price: From £3,250 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation, car hire and taxes

This loop tour through California’s classic north pans through the very best of what the Golden State has to offer – starting in the bohemian streets of San Francisco, you’ll catch epochal views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island before heading to the sun-drenched vineyards of Napa Valley, where you’ll sample a few of the finest wines in the world. After some serious indulgence, go white water rafting, hiking or rock climbing in Yosemite National Park before ending your holiday with a much-deserved rest along Highway One, spending your final days whale-watching, horse riding  and unwinding in Carmel.
Perfect forFamilies and couples who want to hit all of northern California’s highlights in one scenic loop.
In the knowWhile in Napa, consider adding some time to explore the wines in Sonoma’s up-and-coming Russian River Valley.

Best for

  • Couples
  • First-timers
  • Food & Wine
  • Landscapes & Scenery

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Itinerary details



With its hilly streets, pretty houses and indelible views of the bay and famous Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll instantly fall for San Francisco’s cosmopolitan and bohemian charms. Flying into the ‘City by the Bay’, you’ll be sandwiched by the boutique hotel, the Marker, for three nights, enjoying its daily wine hour, its rustic Italian cuisine and quirky interiors. Shake off the jetlag with long scenic walks along the Embarcadero, San Fran’s eastern waterfront, and Alcatraz Island or by stretching your leg muscles with an afternoon cycle ride across Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods. Get a taste of the city’s lively artist and laid-back community by heading to the western neighbourhood of Outer Sunset. Take part in their feel-good food movement with a late brunch at the driftwood draped Outlands restaurant, decide between the 50 exotic flavours at the old-fashioned ice cream parlour Polly Ann’s (we like the jasmine green tea), and gaze at the striking frescoes and mosaics created by artist, Lucian Labaudt, at the Beach Chalet as you drink in the seaside atmosphere and the handcrafted pale ales.
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Having collected your car in San Francisco, you’ll head north to Napa Valley, one of the major wine growing regions of the world. Wake up and clear your head with a morning yoga class at your hotel, the Carneros Inn, or test your swing on the evergreen golf courses that surround the quiet cottages. Once you’ve thoroughly soaked up the sun either by the pool or on a biking tour of the vineyards, take refuge in one of the award-wining restaurants. Book early enough and visit the river rock and timber restaurant, The French Laundry, for their signature starter of “oysters and pearls”, a silky dish of pearl tapioca with oysters and white sturgeon caviar that is to die for, or while away the afternoon on the shady patio of the 100-year-old boathouse restaurant, Angele, for views overlooking the Napa River. For a view with a difference, slowly climb over the valley in a hot air balloon or for those who want to keep their feet on the ground, brush up on some local culture by ambling through the Ansel Adams gallery at Mumm Napa Valley, pairing wine tasting with some contemporary art.
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The third oldest park in the US, Yosemite sees millions of people making the pilgrimage to its protected border in order to walk along its 800 miles of trails, witness its colossal forests and skid across its glass-like lakes. Make the most of Tenaya Lodge’s superb location, just two miles from Yosemite’s south entrance, and go on full day excursions to feel dwarfed by the ancient trees, mesmerised by the staggering views and captivated by the wealth of activities on offer. Try rock climbing across the mile-wide valley, drop your line into Bass Lake to catch a trout or re-live the old west and learn techniques and panning secrets from experienced miners. Ride the popular steam train along the Sugar Pine Railroad or for those looking for something a little quieter, hike the 7-mile trail around Cathedral Lakes to end with a dip in the refreshing waters.
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For your last three nights it’s back to the Californian coast, to straddle the iconic Highway One in Carmel by the Sea. The stylish Carmel Valley Ranch is surrounded by beautiful countryside and offers mountaintop yoga, hundreds of walking trails, three pools just perfect for relaxing around and an opportunity to learn about honeybees in an apiary. Join the professionals in the Adventure Kitchen for garden-to-table cooking demonstrations or leave it to them and have a ‘Pure Flower Sojourn’ treatment (a jasmine and orange blossom oil massage and fruity foot-scrub) in the spa.

Jump in the car, wind down the windows and cruise along 17-Mile Drive, which hugs the coast, passes famous golf courses and cuts through exclusive communities on the Monterey Peninsula - make sure you keep a sharp eye towards the horizon, as between April and November, you’ll likely see the telltale sign of whales.
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Best time to go

Best time to travel

Good time to travel (but some limitations)

Travel is possible (but it’s not the best time)

Travel is not recommended

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Best time to go

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