Pacific Coast Route One, Big Sur
Pacific Coast Route One, Big Sur
Golden Gate Bridge & City Skyline, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge & City Skyline, San Francisco
Monterey Bay, Bixby Bridge & Santa Barbara, California
Monterey Bay, Bixby Bridge & Santa Barbara, California
Los Angeles highlights
Los Angeles highlights
San Diego, California
San Diego, California

Explore California & the Pacific Coast Self-Drive

11 Nights from £2,039 Including Flights

Overview

This magnificent self-drive holiday takes you from San Francisco to San Diego along the iconic Pacific Coast. You will see spectacular seascapes, enjoy sampling the Californian wine, sunbathe & surf in sandy bays, explore buzzing cities & quaint seaside resorts. You can make this holiday as relaxing or as energetic as you wish ... bike, hike, kayak…or simply sit back and enjoy the views. We can recommend and book a whole range of experiences and excursions, whether it’s wine-tasting or whale-watching, Segway tour or foodie tour.

This is a tailor-made itinerary so we can change the route, duration and hotels to suit you. Have a look at the "Accommodation" section below for our hotel recommendations depending on whether you're travelling as a family or a couple, or to suit your budget. These can be mixed and matched throughout your holiday. You could add-on another destination at the end of this holiday - Hawaii is an easy flight from West Coast USA, and a few nights on Waikiki Beach in a hotel such as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki or Moana Surfrider would be a great end to your holiday. Or perhaps the bright lights of Las Vegas beckon - The Bellagio is a firm favourite of ours.

Highlights

  • Ride the San Francisco trolley cars, cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge, visit infamous Alcatraz. Click here to view the experiences we can book for you in San Francisco
  • Drive the Big Sur, pausing the admire the rugged coastline and plunging cliffs
  • Relax in the Spanish colonial town of Santa Barbara, where California cool meets Mediterranean style
  • Explore La La Land, take a studio tour or a trip around the homes of movie stars
  • Take a boat trip from San Diego to spot whales, dolphins and sea lions

Itinerary Overview

Fly into San Francisco and travel south with a return flight from either Los Angeles or San Diego

San Francisco 3 nights - Monterey Peninsula 2 nights - Santa Barbara 2 nights - Los Angeles 2 nights - San Diego 2 nights

Our holidays include
  • Flights & taxes
  • Accommodation
  • Checked baggage
  • ATOL protection
  • In resort assistance & 24 hour contact centre
Why Book with American Sky?
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  • A friendly, family run business with a wealth of experience.
  • Great deals on offer for multiple destinations
  • No amendment fees
  • Low deposits
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Day 1

Arrival in San Francisco

Fly to San Francisco Airport and transfer independently to your chosen hotel to check in and have a restful night before the start of your coastal adventure. You could pick up your hire car at the airport but we don’t think you need the car until you’re ready to move on from San Francisco.

Day 2

San Francisco

A great way to get your bearings in any city is a flexible hop-on / hop-off bus tour, and we can book you some tickets to do just that. Combine that with the number one attraction of San Francisco – the prison island of Alcatraz. It’s essential to pre-book your ticket for this tour, as every day is a sell-out. This evening perhaps explore Chinatown, where you can feast on Cantonese pork filled buns, Peking duck and Barrack Obama’s favourite Dim Sum.

Day 3

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps the most iconic sight and what better way to take in the views than to take a bike ride over it. You can cycle over to Sausilito, a charming town full of quirky shops and boutiques, plus a picturesque waterfront and hundreds of quirky houseboats. But if cycling isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other options – try out a Foodie Walking tour or choose a Segway tour of the neighbourhoods. We think the trams though are the best way to really experience San Francisco, with three lines running through the city. Buy a day pass for $21, work out your route and then sit back and enjoy the views.

Day 4

San Francisco to the Monterey Peninsula – 118 miles

Pick up your hire car, then head south to the stunning Monterey Peninsula. But don’t take the direct highway, enjoy the scenic route heading clockwise along the beautiful 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach. This is what the northern part of the Pacific Coast route is all about – high cliffs swooping down to rocky coves and magnificent vistas. You’ll want to stop for some great photo opportunities such as the giant trees at Crocker Grove and the Restless Sea at Point Joe. At Spanish Bay, take time to stroll the boardwalk above the beach. Entrance to 17-Mile Drive costs $10.25 per vehicle (cash only), but it’s worth every cent. For the next few nights, stay in Monterey or Carmel – both beautiful locations filled with quaint boutiques, bars and restaurants

Day 5

Monterey Peninsula

It might be tempting to spend the day just kicking back and admiring the spectacular views, but wine lovers are not going to want to miss a Monterey wine tour, golfers cannot turn their back on the 16 world-class golf courses in this area, and we can also recommend simply mooching around the pretty town of Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor. Here you can enjoy great views as you walk the Scenic Bluff Path which runs from surfers Carmel Beach to the nature reserve of Carmel River State Beach.

Day 6

Monterey to Santa Barbara – 235 miles

The highlight of today will be driving the Big Sur – the rugged coastal stretch from Carmel to San Simeon. This part of Route 1 is world-famous for its plunging cliffs, stunning sea vistas and beautiful state parks, plus the iconic Bixby Bridge towering 270 feet across a canyon. Park the car and walk through Juila Pfeiffer Burns State Park to the spectacular McWay Falls, cascading 80 feet over granite cliffs into the ocean. You might want to stop for a late lunch in Pismo Beach, before the final drive into Santa Barbara, where you will stay for the next few nights

Day 7

Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara, described as the American Riviera, you will find Mediterranean-style white buildings with red-tile roofs, reflecting the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. The Ynez Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to this charming resort, with winding lanes flanked by little boutiques and bars offering local wines. Cycle along the waterfront at Stearns Wharf, critique the fish & chips fresh from the daily catch, try out paddle-boarding or a kayak trip. East Beach is perfect for families with gentle surf and soft sand, and if you’re here on a Sunday you can browse the local art show.

Day 8

Santa Barbara to Los Angeles - 95 miles

Don’t be intimidated by the vast sprawl of LA – we’ll choose the best hotel for you and your LA experience. Plan your time wisely in this city, so that you can see as much as possible – we can help you book some fantastic tours and experiences. The classic tours are those of Warner Bros studios and Movie Stars homes, but we would also recommend a food tour such as “Sips of Old Hollywood” taking you along the “Walk of Fame” to soak up the atmosphere in iconic bars, speakeasies and mobster hangouts.

Day 9

Los Angeles

 A full day to enjoy the City of Angels, so why not take a guided hike or a horse-ride through the Hollywood Hills. We can also recommend taking a tour of LA by bike or Segway, or for movie buffs we can arrange a behind the scenes tour of Universal Studios Hollywood. This evening why not book a dinner cruise on board a sleek yacht to sail along the Southern California coastline, or if you would like something edgier how about an ethnic neighbourhoods foodie tour.

Day 10

Los Angeles to San Diego - 120 miles

Today head further south to San Diego – known as America’s Finest City and well-loved for having a superb climate with year-round sunshine. There is so much to experience and enjoy in the San Diego area that you may want to book additional nights here to finish your holiday with a bang.

Day 11

San Diego

Perhaps start with a Segway tour to get your bearings in this stunning coastal city. You can also take a land & sea tour by SEAL or jump into a dinky little GoCar to zip around the streets. We recommend you take a cruise of some sort during your stay, which could be a whale & dolphin watching boat ride or a champagne brunch cruise around the bay. Highly recommended is a visit to the MSS Midway, once the largest aircraft carrier in the world, this ship is now a fascinating museum with 60 exhibits and 29 aircraft. A Trolley Tour ticket is a good value way to get around the city, as you can hop-on and off at 11 different stops, which will take you into the evening so you can sample the cafes, bars and restaurants of the Old Town.

Day 12

San Diego - Los Angeles Airport

You can either fly back from San Diego or drive to Los Angeles airport for your return flight home.

  • Prices shown include 3* - 4* hotels for the duration of the itinerary based on two people sharing on a room only basis
  • International flights
  • Fully inclusive car hire
  • Personalised Roadbook

What's not included

  • Resort fees and parking fees where applicable
  • Excursions
  • Road tolls

Recommended Hotels

 

Our suggested hotels for this itinerary are:

San Francisco

Monterey Peninsula

Santa Barbara

Los Angeles

San Diego

 

Our suggested hotels for this itinerary are...

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel

The historic Sir Francis Drake Hotel is a landmark boutique hotel located at Union Square in downtown San Francisco, just steps away from the best shopping in the city, theatres and some of the finest dining in California.

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

A nautically inspired hotel in Monterey Bay, closeto shops and restaurants, this waterfront hotel boasts an ideal location near Carmel, Big Sur and the world-class Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Kimpton Canary Hotel

Located in a charming neighbourhood of Santa Barbara, the Kimpton Canary Hotel is surrounded by red-tiled roofs, palm trees and lanes brimming with boutiques and cafes. There are beautiful views from the pretty pool deck, decorated with hand-painted tiles and elegant wrought iron.

Kimpton Everly Hotel

Close to Hollywood Boulevard and the iconic Capitol Records Building, this is a comfortable hotel with a modern vibe. With an outdoor pool, cool cocktail bar, all-day restaurant and daily hosted wine hour, this is a great base for an LA stay.

Kimpton Solamar Hotel

Hotel Solamar is a hip luxury hotel located in the heart of the lively Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego, just steps away from San Diego’s best shopping, dining and entertainment.

Our suggested hotels for this itinerary are...

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa On Del Monte Golf Course

The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel is set in 22 acres of Monterey Pines on the Central California Coast. There is a championship golf course, swimming pool & hot tubs, restaurant & bar, plus great selection of guestrooms and suites.

Harbor View Inn

This family-friendly beach hotel is very centrally located in Santa Barbara, across from the white sands of West Beach and the historic Stearn's Wharf. Whether you are planning a romantic retreat or family holiday, the Harbour View Inn is a great place to stay.

Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort

The Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort is ideally located within walking distance to the DISNEYLAND® Resort and the Anaheim GardenWalk, so a great choice for families. There's also a good range of facilities at the hotel, so if you're too tired after a day in the park, you can simply relax in one of the on-site cafes.

Loews Coronado Bay

This is an elegant, family-friendly luxury resort overlooking the San Diego coastline. It is located on the exclusive Coronado Island, across from Silver Strand State Beach. Downtown San Diego is just a short hop from the hotel.

Our suggested hotels for this itinerary are...

Fairmont San Francisco

Steeped in historic charm, elegant decor and fantastic service, the Fairmont San Francisco hotel offers a sophisticated experience for your holiday where you'll be treated to a truly memorable stay.

Post Ranch Inn

The Post Ranch Inn has stunning ocean and mountain views, embracing the dramatic beauty of the California coastline. The Inn is ideal for romance, relaxation and rejuvenation, making it the ultimate destination for a luxurious escape.

Mondrian Los Angeles

Mondrian Hotel is located in the heart of West Hollywood on the world famous Sunset Strip. Ideally suited to exploring the city, the luxurious decor and stylish features make for a sophisticated setting for your city break.

The US Grant

This stylish and luxurious hotel sits at the heart of San Diego, making it easy for you to enjoy the best sights and attractions that the city has to offer.

Our suggested hotels for this itinerary are...

The Argonaut

The Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf where guests can experience the essence of San Francisco and its rich maritime history.

Pine Inn

A delightful combination of elegance, charm and serenity, the hotel is nestled in the heart of the village of Carmel and is surrounded by quaint shops, unique art galleries and wonderful hidden courtyards

Hollywood Roosevelt

Located in the heart of Hollywood on the Walk of Fame, across from the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, The Roosevelt stands out among Hollywood Boulevard hotels as a classic property steeped in glamour and history.

Holly Reid
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