Welcome to the ‘Land of Food and Wine’! California’s justly deserved reputation as a culinary global wine and food centre is founded on the ethnic mix of the population, the availability of a wide choice of fresh produce and the wonderful climate – ideal for wine production. With over 2700 wineries, California produces 90% of US wine, sadly we can’t include all of these wineries in our tour, but we hope that our leisurely self-drive tour of northern California will allow you to sample a few, while at the same time providing you with the opportunity to enjoy San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and the stunning Big Sur coastline near Monterey. Using character hotels and small inns, this tour seeks to provide an intimate experience of the region and provide extended time to enjoy the wine-tasting, the natural beauty and the culture of one of America’s special areas.
This tour operates daily between 01 April and 31 October.
Day 1. Arrive in San Francisco. Day 2. San Francisco. Day 3. San Francisco to Napa/Sonoma Wine Region (approx. 75 miles). Days 4 & 5. Napa/Sonoma Wine Region. Day 6. Napa/Sonoma Wine Region to the Sierra Foothills (approx. 105 miles). Days 7 & 8. Explore the Sierra Foothills Wine Region. Day 9. Sierra Foothills to Yosemite National Park (approx. 160 miles). Days 10 & 11. Yosemite National Park. Day 12. Yosemite National Park to Monterey (approx. 200 miles). Days 13 & 14. Monterey/Carmel and the Big Sur Coast. Day 15. Monterey to San Francisco (approx. 100 miles).
Day 2. San Francisco. A full day to explore the delights of this wonderful city. Enjoy a cruise across the bay to Alcatraz (reservations required) and explore the former prison. Ride the cable cars, stroll through Chinatown, check out the shopping in Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf and in the evening sample the culinary delights of San Francisco’s famed restaurants.
Your base in San Francisco – The Serrano Hotel – click here for details.
Day 3. San Francisco to Napa/Sonoma Wine Region (approx. 75 miles). Collect your rental car and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Napa/Sonoma wine region. The short drive today will allow you to take your time and explore the small towns on the way to your accommodation in the heart of the wine region.
Your base for the next three nights in the Napa/Sonoma Wine Region – The Gaige House – click here for details
Days 4 & 5. Napa/Sonoma Wine Region. Enjoy the many wineries and restaurants of the Napa/Sonoma area. Your Innkeeper will be pleased to offer recommendations and to help organise chauffeur-driven transportation to the wineries.
Day 6. Napa/Sonoma Wine Region to the Sierra Foothills (approx. 105 miles). Shortly after leaving the Napa/Sonoma area today you will arrive in California’s State Capital – Sacramento. Take some time to explore Sacramento, take a tour of the Capitol Building, visit Sutter’s Fort and learn about the early history of the city. The Pony Express terminus was located in Sacramento and the museum is well worth a visit to learn more about the short, but fascinating history of the Pony Express. We recommend that you take a diversion to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park, just north of Placerville. It was here in 1848 that the first nugget of gold was discovered and led to the Gold Rush of 1849.
Your base for the next three nights in the Sierra Foothills region – The Amador Harvest Inn – click here for details.
Days 7 & 8. Explore the Sierra Foothills Wine Region. From your base in the heart of the Sierra Foothills region, you can visit many of the wineries and historical sites of the area. Further afield you can visit the wineries of the Lodi Wine Region just south of Sacramento.
Day 9. Sierra Foothills to Yosemite National Park (approx. 160 miles). Take the scenic route today south along Highway 49 (names after the Gold Rush of 1849) through the former gold rush towns of Angel’s Camp and Columbia and into one of America’s most beautiful national parks – Yosemite. Once again the leisurely pace of this tour allows you ample time to explore the small communities, sample the local culture and take in the stunning scenery.
Your base for the next three nights is the lovely Tenaya Lodge at Fish Camp, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just two miles outside of Yosemite National Park. Click here for details of Tenaya Lodge.
Days 10 & 11. Yosemite National Park. Two full days to enjoy Yosemite National Park. The plunging waterfalls of Yosemite Valley, the towering giant Sequoia trees, the stunning scenery of the alpine meadows, the sheer granite face of El Capitan and the amazing views from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park is a highlight of any tour of northern California.
Day 12. Yosemite National Park to Monterey (approx. 200 miles). Descending from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, your journey today takes you across California’s fertile Central Valley the ‘nation’s fruit basket’; through the Coastal hills and into the Monterey County Wine Region. Enjoy the small towns and wineries before arriving at your destination today – Monterey!
Your base for the next three nights in Monterey – the Pacific Hotel – click here for details.
Days 13 & 14. Monterey/Carmel and the Big Sur Coast. Sample the delights of Monterey and Carmel, the rugged Big Sur coast and the wineries of Monterey County. Not to be missed is the fabulous Monterey Bay Aquarium where apart from the wonderful exhibits, visitors can enjoy the Cooking for Solutions events. ‘For the Aquarium’s 25th year we present our eighth Cooking for Solutions celebration. Great chefs, gourmet cuisine and fine wines make this the culinary event of the year—an elegant way to discover how your healthy choices protect the health of the soil, water and ocean wildlife’. For full details go to http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/ Events include the signature gala celebration, as well as food and wine adventures, cooking demonstrations and a seafood challenge.
Day 15. Monterey to San Francisco (approx. 100 miles). Enjoy the last day of your holiday with a free morning in Monterey/Carmel before heading for San Francisco International Airport. Return your rental car and report for your flight.
Just America will be pleased to adapt this tour to your precise needs. We can also assist with transatlantic flights from the UK, additional accommodation, car rental and onward travel to other areas of North America.
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Prices for ‘A Taste of California’ are available upon request from Just America. Please call 01489 892329 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tour prices:The prices shown in the price panels are for the accommodation elements only, they do not include flights or car rental (unless indicated). This enables you to choose the airline and car of your choice and add them to the accommodation package to create your holiday. Our reservations staff will be pleased to help you with flight availability, to suggest which is the best airline for your itinerary and to advise you of any special offers the airlines may have introduced.
Hotels:Hotels featured in our self-drive and independent tours are chosen for their location, value for money and facilities. Whenever possible we offer a choice of Standard or Superior hotels. There is no recognised 'star' system throughout North America for classifying hotels, motels and resorts. The hotel ratings for our tours are subjective and are provided to give you an understanding as to the level of facility. They are either the hotel's official categorisation as per the Official Hotel & Resort Guide, or Just America's. Standards vary from location to location, therefore ratings in the remote areas can differ from those in the cities. Standard hotels would be those classified as Moderate, and Superior hotels would be First Class, in the Official Hotel and Resort Guide. National Park accommodations are more rustic and are chosen almost entirely because of their location. It should not be assumed that because an hotel is listed as Superior that it has certain amenities. Often a hotel is classified as Superior due to its position, views or room standard, it does not always follow that a superior hotel will have a swimming pool, hair-dryers, golf course, room service etc. We will try to provide information on individual hotels on request although the internet is usually the quickest and most accurate source of information. Hotel rooms in North America usually have one or two double beds. Triple and Quad rooms have two double beds. Very few hotels in North America have three or four beds. It is sometimes possible to have a rollaway bed which can be requested, but cannot be guaranteed. Occasionally hotels are chosen purely for their location - i.e. half-way between two points of interest - and may be included as a one night stop to break up an otherwise long journey. Such hotels may not have the full facilities normally associated with a Standard or Superior hotel, but sometimes we don't have any other choice. Where possible hotels providing free car parking have been included, however in some locations, such as city centres, the hotels may make a charge.
Note:Hotels are not usually ready to accept guests until after 3 or 4 pm, so please try not to check in before mid-afternoon. Check out time is usually before 11 am or 12 noon. It is sometimes possible to arrange late check out, or the storage of luggage, but this is at the discretion of the hotel.
Tour notes and itineraries:On several of our tours the tour notes and itineraries are provided at the first hotel. On other tours this information is forwarded with the travel documents approximately 14 days prior to departure. We will endeavour to provide the best information we can to help you, but it is not our policy to provide mile by mile detailed route guides, the frequent changes to local road conditions, layouts etc., makes this impossible. We do provide maps, guides to the major attractions en route, and directions to hotels whenever possible. These are independent self-drive holidays and you will be required to read a map and locate attractions and hotels. Sat.Nav. is available from the car rental companies - at a charge - and you may find this useful, however all technology is prone to failure so we always recommend that you keep the maps handy.
Tailor-made holidays:We will be pleased to discuss your own ideas and itineraries and help you plan your holiday. If you would like to email, fax or mail an outline of your tour with dates, number of people, ages of children etc., to us we will be happy to advise you. We request that you include your daytime telephone number on all correspondence. Where you have chosen the route and we have designed a tailor-made holiday for you, it may not be possible to provide you with a detailed tour itinerary. We suggest that you read up about the area you are planning to visit well in advance, preferably before you book the holiday. Insight Guides cover almost every region of North America and are about the best on the market. Just America can also provide a some tourist information subject to availability, but we do not have detailed route information to cover every area of the Continent. You might find the internet to be the best source of free, up-to-date information.
National Park Passes:Both the US and Canada charge entrance fees for their national parks, and if you are visiting a number of parks, this cost can add up to a significant amount. We recommend that you purchase a Parks Pass at the first national park you visit. For the US the pass currently costs $80 for up to four adults (children under 16 are free). In Canada a family pass currently costs $136.40. Both passes provide unlimited visits to that country's parks for 12 months. The passes can only be used in the country of purchase. Full details available at www.nps.gov (for USA) and www.pc.gc.ca/index_e.asp