San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Bay & Vineyards
Food and wine will be some of the highlights of this short fly-drive holiday which will take you from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Along the way, you will be able to visit the famous Napa Valley, Monterey, drive the coastal perfection that is Highway 1 as well as exploring the hill villages such as Santa Ynez. This holiday has been designed for you if you are short of time and would work well if you are planning a cruise out of San Francisco or Los Angeles. It can also be extended if you would like to spend more time at any of the places along the way or would like to explore Yosemite National Park or the capital Sacramento.
Here's a day-by-day guide to your itinerary. Feel free to ask us to add other days or ideas and excursions by adding them to your wishlist, so we can give you the best price.View full itinerary
Settle into your San Francisco Hotel, and then wander out to start exploring this famous city. Allow yourself to be a tourist! Jump on the cable car to get a bird's eye view before the serious business of eating and drink begin!
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To get into the Northern California lifestyle, start the day at the Ferry Building Marketplace, where you can interact with local farmers, artisan producers, and independently owned and operated food businesses, some of whom who are returning to sustainable methods of agriculture and production. If you’re in San Francisco on a Tuesday or Saturday, you can also experience the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, a California certified farmers market. Enjoy lunch at a gourmet café and take home culinary souvenirs, such as specialty food items or cookware,. Later in the afternoon, stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can visit several museums and shops – including Ghiradelli Square or take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, where some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century lived from 1934-1963. Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf or venture over to North Beach, San Francisco’s version of Little Italy, for an evening of gourmet comfort food and lively nightlife.
NB the Alcatraz trip should be pre-bookedClose
In the morning head over to Scharffen Berger, a boutique chocolatier in Berkeley. Take a free factory tour and learn more about how small-batch, artisan manufacturing creates one of the most coveted dark chocolates in the U.S. – from cacao bean to bar. After your tour stay for lunch in Café Cacao and of course you have to check out the gift shop. Then, return to San Francisco to explore Chinatown, including a stop at a wonton fortune cookie factory. For dinner, enjoy a night out at one of the city’s finest restaurants, followed by clubbing or lounging in a champagne or wine bar.Close
In the morning, collect your hire car begin your journey into one of the most renowned wine regions in the U.S. – Sonoma County. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, where your first stop should be the bridge overlook, perfect for a hike across the bridge or just capturing spectacular skyline photos. Then drive about an hour north to Petaluma, one of the oldest cities in California with one of the best-preserved historic downtowns. Centrally located, this riverfront town is a great base for exploring more than 195 Sonoma County wineries, redwoods and dramatic coastline. Take time to stroll and shop along the streets of this charming river town, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then drive a few miles east to historic Sonoma for lunch, where the vibrant restaurant scene reflects the agricultural bounty of the region. Take time after lunch to shop or do wine tasting in the historic plaza, or visit one of the nearby wineries for a tasting and a tour. Spend the afternoon exploring the Sonoma Valley and Russian River wineries before driving to the Napa Valley where you will spend the next couple of nights.
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Spend the day in world-renowned Napa Valley. For lunch, catch the Napa Valley Wine Train, a scenic 3-hour gourmet-dining excursion aboard lavishly restored 1915-1950 Pullman Dining and Lounge cars. Browse through small towns – such as Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga – shop and taste olives and award-winning vintages along the St Helena Highway in the heart of the valley. Or if you’re looking for a change of pace, take a hot-air balloon ride over the valley. In the evening, enjoy dinner at some of the best restaurants in the world.Close
Napa Valley to Monterey
Drive about 90 minutes south to the charming town of Los Gatos, a few miles southwest of San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. Spend time shopping or exploring the many trails, wine tasting rooms and restaurants. After lunch, take Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz, venturing to various wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine region. In the late afternoon arrive in Monterey. Dinner and overnight in Monterey.
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Monterey to Santa Barbara
In the morning explore Monterey’s historic waterfront district, Cannery Row, immortalised in John Steinbeck’s novel. There you can shop or explore Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the finest in the world. Watch seals play while you sip local wines and savour fresh seafood for lunch. After lunch, you have a choice of routes. You can either hug the coast road using Highway 1, one of the most iconic drives in the world or if you want to continue researching the wine, you can go via Highway 101 to the town of Paso Robles, the heart of Paso Robles Wine Country. Venture to various vineyards on your own or take a guided wine tour. In the late afternoon, you need to make another choice; to stay in the hills of Santa Ynez in the boutique Santa Ynez Inn or on the coast at Santa Barbara. Either way you will be sure of a good dinner.
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Where ever you chose to stay, do allow some time to enjoy the Santa Ynez Valley wine region. Be sure to include in the itinerary a stop for lunch in Beullton at the Hitching Post, made famous in the film Sideways. Here you can enjoy a glass of fine local wine with delicious Spanish Ranchero-style barbecue food. Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills with cool ocean breezes, warm afternoons and mineral-rich soil, are producing some of California’s most sought-after Pinots. In the late afternoon head to downtown Santa Barbara for a gourmet dinner. Overnight in Santa Barbara.Close
Drive about 90 minutes south to Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market, one of southern California’s best place to people-watch and purchase last-minute culinary souvenirs at 100 eclectic shops. Then, visit Beverly Hills for lunch and shopping on Rodeo Drive or a tour of celebrity homes,Close
This is a selection of hotels for this itinerary. Some areas have many more choices; please use the search function above if you wish to find an alternative hotel.
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