Explore the Pacific Coast of California and the natural wonders that are the National Parks on this tour that showcases the best of the western states.
# 2 Adults, 2 Children# 1 Large Suitcase,2 Small Suitcases# Air Conditioning# Duel Airbags# Standard for parties of 1 and 2
Enjoy the Pacific Coast and Parks of the Western United States
Arrive at the airport, pick-up your rental car and proceed to the hotel. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. It’s a compact and approachable place, where downtown streets rise on impossible gradients to reveal stunning views of the city, the bay and beyond. San Francisco is culturally vibrant and ethnically diverse; as a result, it has evolved into the urban jewel of California’s coast. Very typical for this city are the cable cars and rows of elaborate redwood Victorian-Style houses. Curiously, it contains the biggest China Town outside China.
Accommodations: (STD) Powell Hotel or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Pickwick Hotel or similar (2 nights)
Today, you are free to enjoy the many sights and sounds of San Francisco. Take a cable car ride from Fisherman’s Wharf. Another major attraction is Alcatraz, a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It served as lighthouse, a military fortification, and finally as a federal prison until 1963. The rangers give excellent guided tours detailing the history and legends surrounding “The Rock.” Spend the day in Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park offers dozens of fun things to do. Top sights are the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden. Don’t miss the local resident buffalo herd. This evening dine in one of San Francisco’s many distinctive neighborhoods. From Chinatown to the very Italian flavored North Beach, each offers its own distinctive culture and cuisine.
Depart San Francisco this morning for the luxurious drive down the Pacific Coast toward Monterey. After being swept away by the stunning Pacific coast views, spend the afternoon enjoying Monterey. Settled in 1770 as one of the first European outposts on the west coast, many of the early American Colonial buildings still stand. Monterey eventually became the sardine capital of the Western Hemisphere when the first packing plant was built in 1900. Today, the old sardine factories have been converted into quaint restaurants and boutique shops. This area, called “Cannery Row”, was made famous by the author John Steinbeck and still remains an amusing place to explore. Monterey Bay is a fantastic place to whale watch and tours are offered locally. Consider taking the scenic and famous 17-Mile Drive route. Stop at the famous Pebble Beach and enjoy the sights of luxury mansions along the coast. An overnight stay has been arranged in the San Simeon area.
Accommodations: (STD) Silver Surf or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Cambria Pines Lodge or similar (1 night)
This morning continue to drive along the beautiful Pacific Coast to Santa Barbara. This coastal city is a gem. The pristine city’s climate gives rise to a number of natural attractions. Stroll through the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens to view breathtaking flora or hike a scenic nature trail in Los Padres National Forest. The beaches all have their own allure. East Beach attracts the trendy and young while fishing and whale watching are the favorites at Arroyo Burro. Enjoy the fine collection at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art or explore the old Mission. Fresh seafood can be found in the restaurants on Stearn’s Wharf. Continue to Los Angeles for a two-night stay. Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the United States. Home to famous movie stars and the infamous landmark, the Hollywood sign; it is a city brimming with culture and happenings. This big metropolis has many regions with distinct flavors and communities. Take a stroll along the Walk of Fame and see the names of celebrities commemorated in pink stars along the sidewalk. Visit Mann’s Chinese Theater, the best-preserved of the movie palaces from Hollywood’s golden era, known for its celebrity hand and footprints in the forecourt, over 200 impressions are yours to discover. Accommodations: (STD) Figueroa Hotel or similar (2 nights) (SUP) Millennium Biltmore Hotel or similar (2 nights)
Today, explore the City of Angels. Visit the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Shop the famous Rodeo Drive, where luxury retail commands the street. Have lunch in Venice Beach, home to famous Muscle Beach, where the sand and surf are secondary to the lively scene of people that inhabit the sidewalk. Visit Santa Monica Pier, built in 1916 and once known as the “finish line” of legendary Route 66. It features an aquarium, an amusement park and the famous Hippodrome building, a mix of California, Byzantine and Moorish architecture that has been featured in many films. Or, make your way to Anaheim and visit the “Happiest place on earth”, Disneyland, home to everyone’s favorite characters like Minnie and Mickey Mouse. Here you will find entertainment for the young and the young at heart. For a behind the scenes look at movie making, you can visit Universal Studios. Tour the sets and cast yourself in the thrilling rides, shows, and attractions that bring the movies to life. In the evening, enjoy Universal City Walk, filled with restaurants and nightclubs.
Depart Los Angeles this morning and drive along the majestic Pacific Coast to San Diego. Visit SeaWorld® Adventure Park San Diego. This world-class visitor attraction features a variety of spectacular sights and activities. See Shamu the killer whale, ride the waves of Shipwreck Rapids, and see manatees, polar bears and dolphins. A variety of animal-themed shows are featured and it’s even possible to take a behind the scenes tour. The San Diego Zoo, known throughout the world as a first-rate facility, is home to more than 3,800 animals of over 800 different species. The zoo grounds cover 100 acres with more than 6,500 different species of plants. The zoo is well known for its efforts to recreate the natural habitats of the animals. Specialized habitats include Tiger River, Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest, Polar Bear Plunge and Ituri Forest. Accommodations: (STD) Mission Valley Resort or similar (1 night) (SUP) Sofia Hotelor similar (1 night)
Depart San Diego and drive toward the fashionable resort community of Palm Springs. Here date palms grow wild and natural springs have attracted visitors for years. Now known for its golf and upscale lifestyle, tourists and celebrities enjoy the numerous luxurious amenities. Take a ride on the Aerial Tramway, a popular attraction that takes you from the desert to snow-capped mountains. This cable car ride ascends Mt. San Jacinto. At the top, there are hiking trails, mule rides, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. Moorten Botanical Garden is another interesting place to visit, proclaiming itself the “World’s First Cactarium.” The garden includes 3,000 fine examples of desert cacti and other desert plants, in a quirky Wild West setting sometimes used as a film backdrop. The Village area has a variety of restaurants, trendy shops, historic sites and annual festivals. Continue to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for an overnight stay. This evening visit the “Old Town” area of Scottsdale. In addition to multiple galleries and exclusive shops, here you will find excellent collection of Southwestern and Native American art and handicrafts for sale. Enjoy the regional flavors of the southwest cooking style at one of the multiple restaurants in this area. An overnight stay has been arranged here.
Accommodations: (STD) Sleep Inn N. Scottsdale Rd. or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Embassy Suites Phoenix or similar (1 night)
Leave the Valley of the Sun behind this morning and journey toward Grand Canyon National Park. Begin the scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon. Oak Creek Canyon is a spectacular 16-mile gorge with streams and waterfalls between sheer rock walls. Breathtaking in its red rock beauty, the Canyon with its clear perennial stream provides a strong contrast to the Sedona’s red rocks. See the natural water slide called Sliding Rock where visitors glide down a smooth rock surface into the water. Red rock formations surround the town of Sedona. Make a photo stop at Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock, large red sandstone formations that tower around the town. Sedona is known for its strong artistic community, eclectic shops and galleries and fantastic places to eat. Enjoy the afternoon exploring the main avenue or take a jeep tour out into the natural landscape. Continue to Grand Canyon.
Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Grand Canyon Lodging* or similar (2 nights)
(* 2 nights in-park accommodations are offered on a first-come, first served basis depending on availability.
Early booking is essential; otherwise, similar accommodations near the park will be provided)
The overwhelming size and brilliant colors of the Grand Canyon easily make it one of the natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon was carved out by natural elements including the Colorado River over vast geological spans of time. The South Rim has an assortment of viewing areas that can be reached by shuttle or car. There are many paved and unpaved walkways along the rim. Visit Bright Angel Lodge for an excellent vantage point. The lodge is a historic landmark and also offers a gallery, restaurant, exhibits and a great view. Guided hikes also leave from the lodge and talks are often offered by the park rangers. For the adventurous, hiking trails and guided mule rides will take you down to the Colorado River. Rafting trips along the river are also a spectacular way to enjoy the canyon.
Bid farewell to the Grand Canyon and drive toward the Petrified National Forest. Here you will find an abundance of beautifully colored petrified logs that existed 225 million years ago. The 28-mile drive through the park has numerous scenic overlooks. Make photo stops at the Rainbow Forest, Agate House and Blue Mesa. Part of the Painted Desert lies within the park. Many hardened dunes can be found there as well. These hardened dunes display spectacular bands of grays, reds, oranges and yellows. The area is especially beautiful at sunset when the land appears to glow in hues of violet, blue, red and gold. Continue to Holbrook for an overnight stay. Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Magnuson Hotel Adobe Inn or similar (1 night)
This morning drive toward Canyon De Chelly. While it is not as grand as some other landmarks of Arizona and Utah, it has vertical walls rising up to 1000 feet with many scenic overlooks and the well-preserved Anasazi ruins. Peer into the present day life of the Navajo, who still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor. Visit the spectacular geologic feature, Spider Rock, a sandstone spire that rises 800 feet from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. Spider Rock can be seen from South Rim Drive. It has served as the scene of a number of television commercials. Continue to Kayenta for an overnight stay.
Accommodations: (STD) Kayenta Monument Valley Inn or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Gouldings Lodge or similar (1 night)
This morning enjoy a beautiful drive through Monument Valley. Over the years, Monument Valley has been the setting for more Western movies than any other site in the United States. Unique sandstone formations punctuate the sometimes barren landscape and spires rise into strange formations that have inspired names such as “Three Sisters” and “The Thumb.” At dawn and dusk, the park comes to life when the sun transforms this area into a bright canvas, painting the monoliths with light and color. Located on the north and central parts of the Navajo Reservation, some of these native people still inhabit this land. You are likely to see them selling their wares on the side of the road, or in the shops that dot the area. Make sure to stop at the Visitor Center at the entrance to the park. Here you will find valuable information about navigating through Monument Valley and learn about the culture and traditions of the Navajo Nation. Continue to Moab for a two-night stay.
Accommodations: (STD) Super 8 Moab or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Ramada Moab Downtown or similar (2 nights)
Today, visit Arches National Park. Here you will encounter over 2,000 natural freestanding sandstone arches. The number varies from day to day, as old arches crumble and new ones form. The most famous of these is Delicate Arch. The best viewing of this impressive arch is done off the roadway and on a trail. It is well worth the hike to encounter it up close. At the Visitor Center, rangers offer guided walks and nature talks. Keep your eyes open for desert bighorn sheep. These famous residents tend to blend in with the landscape; a sighting is a special treat. You might also choose to visit the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Construction began on this 500 room “great house” by ancestral Pueblo people around 100 A.D. A short trail winds through the rooms and provides an intimate showing.
This morning visit Canyonlands National Park. Here you can view thousands of feet down to the Colorado and Green Rivers, or thousands of feet up to red rock arches, spires and cliffs. Visit The Needles district of the park, regarded as the most colorful section. You can hike 1500 feet to Needle Point for breathtaking views. Continue to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef National Park is a hundred-mile long ridge of rock that has eroded into wildly colorful and varied formations. Much of this park can be viewed from the many turn outs along the way. Take time to talk to a ranger at the Visitor Center and hike one of the many trails.
Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Best Western Capitol Reef Resort or similar (1 night)
Begin your day by traveling to Bryce Canyon for a two-night stay. Along the way make brief stops at the Anazasi Indian Village and Kodachrome Basin State Parks. The Anazasi Indian Village is located in the heart of Utah’s canyon country and was one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River. The village remains largely unexcavated, but many artifacts have been uncovered and are on display in the newly remodeled museum. Kodachrome Basin State Park consists of a spectacle of massive sandstone chimneys, ever-changing from gray and white to shades of red with the day’s mood. Numerous rocks and coves offer solitude, quiet and unique desert beauty. Continue on your journey after taking a few good pictures; you should be able to make it to the Bryce Canyon area to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets you will ever see.
Accommodations: (STD) Bryce View Lodge or similar (2 nights) (SUP) Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon or similar (2 nights)
This morning visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce contains “amphitheatres” of colorful eroded rock formations. These spires of rock are called hoodoos. It is their uniqueness that sets Bryce apart from anywhere else. Light reflecting on the hoodoos at different times of day change the colorful scene of the park. Consider a drive to Rainbow Point where, from some of the overlooks, you can see more than 100 miles on a clear day. There are a variety of walking trails in the park. Horseback riding is another popular way to see the highlights of the park. Consider a drive to Rainbow Point where, from some of the overlooks, you can see more than 100 miles on a clear day.
Leave the natural beauty of the Bryce Canyon behind and travel to Las Vegas. Along the way, stop at Zion National Park. You will be greeted by gigantic sandstone monoliths and hear the soft rush of the Virgin River. The Narrows are Zion’s famous slot canyons. These are narrow stone crevices formed with colorful stripes caused by years of water and wind erosion that result is a hiker’s paradise. In the park and along the river there are a variety of trails and paved pathways for explorers of all skill levels. In addition, there is a complimentary shuttle system that runs throughout the park. By utilizing this, you can visit the Zion’s other major attractions such as the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock and Angels Landing. Stop at the Visitor Center for information on guided tours and park history Continue on to Las Vegas. Las Vegas has something to offer everyone. From the outrageous live shows to the excitement of casinos, the action never stops from morning to night. Stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as “the strip.” Each hotel and casino has a distinctly different theme and all are wondrous displays. Take a trip up to the top of the Stratosphere hotel tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Enjoy dinner at the Top of the World, or simply admire the view from the observation deck. Visit any of the premier hotels including Caesars Palace, The Venetian and Paris for luxury shopping. If you’re searching for a bargain, drive to one of the outlet malls featuring designer names at discounted prices. Make sure not to miss the nightly fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. Using a dramatic combination of music, water and light, the Bellagio delivers spectacular performances nightly with its majestic fountains. An overnight stay has been arranged here.
Accommodation: (STD) Circus Circus Hotel & Casino or similar (SUP) Tropicana Hotel & Casino (2 nights)
Today is yours to explore this electrifying city. Make sure not to miss the nightly fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. Using a dramatic combination of music, water and light, the Bellagio delivers spectacular performances nightly with its majestic fountains. Take a trip up to the top of the Stratosphere hotel tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Enjoy dinner at the Top of the World, or simply admire the view from the observation deck. Visit any of the premier hotels including Caesars Palace, The Venetian and Paris for luxury shopping. If you’re searching for a bargain, drive to one of the outlet malls featuring designer names at discounted prices. Dining in Las Vegas is superior. World-renowned chefs have decided to make Vegas their kitchen and there is always a restaurant nearby to satisfy any palette. For a different side of Vegas, visit Fremont Street. This historic street features shops, restaurants and casinos. Above you hangs a canopy screen where more than 12 million lights put on a spectacular show.
Depart Las Vegas and begin the drive back toward California. Make a stop at the Mojave Preserve. Singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers are all found at this 1.6 million acre park. A visit to its canyons, mountains and mesas will reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts. Continue on to Bakersfield for an overnight stay. Located at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley is the city of Bakersfield, boasting mountain river adventures and ranches. The discovery of gold in the Kern River Valley in 1851 brought the first group of settlers, including Colonel Thomas Baker. Today, Bakersfield is an outdoor wonderland with a diverse selection of activities to choose from. Make a stop at the California Living Museum. Here you will find displays that interpret native California animals, plants, fossils, and artifacts. Over 80 species of native animals are featured.
(STD) Days Inn Bakersfield or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Clarion Hotel or similar (1 night)
On the way to El Portal, visit the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These twin parks hold monuments to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity. Immense mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees all reside here making it a very unique place. Located in the foothills and mountains of the south central section of the Sierra Nevada range, Sequoia is famous for big things–some of the largest trees in the world and some of the highest mountains in the U.S., including Mt. Whitney, at 14,495 ft. Visit the tallest sequoia, 275-foot-tall General Sherman, which has a trunk that weighs 1,385 tons and a circumference of nearly 103 feet. Spectacular views can be seen from Moro Rock. Guided cavern tours are available and the visitor center contains much information about park history and seasonal activities. As an alternative you can bypass these parks and spend the extra time in Yosemite and visit the big trees in Mariposa Grove. Continue on to El Portal for a two stay.
Accommodations: (STD) Cedar Lodge or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Yosemite View Lodge or similar (2 nights)
Today visit Yosemite National Park. The striking beauty of Yosemite is due in part to the Yosemite Valley, whose flat floor contrasts with nearly vertical granite walls. The granite cliffs, including the El Capitan monolith, Glacier Point, and Half Dome all tower as major waterfalls tumble over them. In addition to the Valley, Yosemite includes an extensive high-mountain wilderness of peaks, rivers, and meadows, and groves of giant sequoia trees. Extensive visitor activities, facilities, and services are available. At Yosemite Village, you can visit the Valley Visitor Center and see its orientation film, publications, theater programs, and exhibits highlighting the natural and human history. Self-guiding trails are found nearby. Elsewhere in Yosemite Valley, you can gaze up at the waterfalls; visit Mirror Lake/Meadow in the East Valley and the famous “Tunnel View” of Yosemite Valley at Wawona Tunnel.
Depart El Portal and drive toward Sacramento, the capital of the state of California. Originally established as a supply town for gold miners, modern-day Sacramento is the hub of commerce for the central valley area. Guided tours of the California State Capitol and Museum are available. This museum highlights regional and state political history in the very building that has served as the seat of the government since 1869. Consider a visit the Governor Mansion. From 1903 to 1967, this lovely Victorian mansion was home to thirteen governors. Guided tours lead visitors through well appointed rooms with lavish decorations. You will be entertained by “inside” stories about the mansion’s occupants and families. Railroad excursions are also available. This popular attraction takes visitors on a 40-minute train ride along the Sacramento River. Enjoy cruising along in open-air gondolas and vintage coaches pulled by real steam locomotives while marveling at the scenery.
Accommodations: (STD) Best Western Plus Sutter House Sacramento or similar (1 night) (SUP) DoubleTree Hotel or similar (1 night)
Drive to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and drop-off your rental car.
Explore the Pacific Coast of California and the natural wonders that are the National Parks on this tour that showcases the best of the western states.
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