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Great Drives
North America
May - Dec

So many people rush places like San Francisco and see them in a few nights. but there's so much to see and it's worth slowing down to get into the Californian way of life. 

Hayley Gittins

So many people whizz through California, trying to see it all and end up in a car all day. Sure, the driving is a real highlight and here we’ve included rental of a convertible Ford Mustang – so you can feel the Californian sun on your face and ocean breeze in your hair. Slip on those Wayfarers, stick on The Beach Boys and cruise those highways.

But it’s not all journey. So many people whizz through California, trying to see it all and end up in a car all day. On this Slow-Cal itinerary we’re included some off the beaten track places like Ventanas on the Big Sur and the vineyards of Paso Robles, made famous in the film Sideways.

Stay in some of the top hotels from San Francisco to Santa Monica, with plenty of time to slow it down and enjoy that exclusive LA vibe.

We’ve added some exclusive touches like a waiter served picnic on Santa Monica beach, and some of the unmissable sites like the Alcatraz tour – which has to be booked in advance, just leave it to us.  

And in our opinion, don’t miss out San Diego, a great place for the beach, to eat and drink and get into that native California lifestyle. So…as they say around there…whadda ya’ waitin’ for?

At a Glance

  • Specially selected hotels for location and style
  • Do the Pacific highway in a convertible
  • Stay on the Big Sur and by the Cali vineyards
  • Yosemite National Park tour included
  • San Francisco to San Diego – full California drive
  • Santa Monica private picnic on the beach included

Create your personal perfection

Our expert tour specialists can tailor this trip to exactly meet your needs. We make the suggestions but the decision is yours

  • Share our insights
  • Design around you
  • Plan to perfection
  • Work to your budget



Practical Info


  • Day 1
    The UK to San Francisco

    Fly to San Francisco, the city on the bay, and transfer to your hotel. We’ve not included a car here yet, so a few days in San Francisco on foot and on the legendary San Francisco cable cars is the way to do it.

    Spend four nights here, up in fashionable Nob Hill, with plenty of time to get into that northern Californian vibe.

    Fairmont San Francisco
  • Days 2 - 3
    San Francisco

    Take a few days exploring all that San Francisco has to offer, from the steep narrow streets of Nob Hill, to famous locations such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. 

    We'll book Alcatraz tickets for you, and a sunset catamaran cruise on San Francisco Bay, up to the Golden Gate and along the bay with lunch is included.

    Fairmont San Francisco
  • Day 4


    Head out of town on a full day tour to the famous Yosemite National Park. This is based on a coach departure and, yes, it’s a long day out but a perfect way to relax and watch the world pass by as you head into the high peaks and the famous Yosemite valley.

    Local Californian guides are always great fun and value, and will add a lot to the day out. There’s time to wander in Yosemite valley and take in the scenery…it’s awesome. You might spot climbers on El Capitan and will have great photo ops of the towering mountains. And coming back to San Francisco there’s great panoramic views of the city.

    Fairmont San Francisco
  • Day 5
    Past Monterey, Carmel and into Big Sur

    Pick up your car this morning, get the top down, and soon you’ll be cruising out of the steep San Francisco streets, down the coast towards San Jose….you know the way….through Silicon Valley and towards the Pacific Coast drive.

    No need to rush it, there’s plenty of time to stop by in Monterey or Carmel and grab a lunch.

    Stay at the Carmel Valley Ranch, in the heart of the Big Sur countryside. Enjoy some California lifestyle, relax by the pool, take a yoga class, a bit of meditation…tune in and drop out.

    Carmel Valley Ranch
  • Day 6
    Carmel Valley


    Just relax at the resort, or try any of the activities available at the ranch, surrounded by the Big Sur reserve mountains. . Feel that vibe that made this area a 60s California hippie escape. There's a wonderful variety of activities you can try at the ranch 

    Or you can nip out in the car and enjoy more of an ocean drive, perhaps back up to Carmel for lunch. 


    Carmel Valley Ranch
  • Day 7
    Big Sur Drive to Slo-Cal wine country

    Continue south, with the wind in your hair down that Big Sur drive with the Pacific Ocean in your sights all day long.

    Head on to San Luis Obispo county, known as Slo-Cal, and where a little way inland fertile rolling hills and pasture reveal the southern California wine country.  and head through the central California wine and ranch country.

    Stay for a few nights of indulgence at Allegretto Vineyard Resort, surrounded by the vineyards of Paso Robles.

    Allegretto Vineyard Resort
  • Day 8
    Slo-Cal Wine Country

    Spend a day exploring the local wine route, or head down to Solvang, a quirky old town with Danish influences still alive today. The coast and the surfing spots of Avila Beach are also close by.

    Allegretto Vineyard Resort
  • Day 9
    To Santa Monica

    It’s not too far to drive today, we’ve designed this itinerary to avoid having all day in the car. But if you want more driving we can add in a few days out in the desert in Palm Springs and nipping to Joshua Tree National Park if you like.

    Sticking to the coast, drive through Malibu beach to Santa Monica. We’ve added 4 nights here, it’s up to you but with all La La Land has to offer, it’s worth slowing down a bit.  

    As part of your exclusive Santa Monica experience, we’ll arrange for you a full service picnic on the beach, something to celebrate and savour your trip.

    Shutters on the Beach
  • Days 10 - 13
    Santa Monica and Los Angeles

    Spend a few days by the ocean in Santa Monica. It’s full of cool shopping boutiques, restaurants and bars, a vibrant arts scene and is definitely a place to splurge.

    Of course there’s also Hollywood and all that has to offer, or head down to Venice Beach, and the theme parks including Universal and Disney.

    Shutters on the Beach
  • Day 14
    To San Diego

    Jump back in the convertible and head down the ocean road to San Diego.

    It’s a shame to miss out on San Diego, which many do. It’s California’s beach city, with distinct Mexican influences, great nightlife in the Gaslamp quarter, green spaces and plenty to see.

    The US Grant
  • Day 15
    San Diego

    A cool drive or boat trip out of the city is Coronado Island, for a taste of small town America. Or downtown you can visit the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

     Or relax and eat and drink. San Diego is known as the craft beer capital of the States, there are some great brewery tours. Or just grab a taco on the waterfront or in Balboa Park, which is full of arts spaces.

    It’s even worth spending an extra day if you can and as Ron Burgundy would say… stay classy.

    The US Grant
  • Days 16 - 17

    There may be a bit more time to take a last bite out of San Diego, maybe a drive along the coast, before heading to the airport for your overnight return flight.

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San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco

‘Awe-Inspiring City Location’

Located in the heart of San Francisco, the world-renowned Fairmont Hotel presents an awe-inspiring picture of the city. The hotel boasts 591 stylish and comfortable rooms and suites to choose from that each has first class amenities and breath-taking views of the city along with San Francisco Bay. There is a choice of restaurants and bars to enjoy along with excellent leisure facilities including a fitness centre and spa and is only a short distance away from all the local attractions including Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square.


Carmel Valley Ranch

‘Decadent, Chic and Sophisticated, the Quintessential California Experience’

Surrounded by landscaped gardens and lush woodland, Carmel Valley Ranch is an iconic Californian resort reinterpreted with contemporary style and modern sophistication. Carmel Valley Ranch offers 139 spacious and elegantly appointed guest suites. Stunning and relaxing, this exclusive hotel is abundant with the natural beauty of Northern California, offering intuitive service and luxurious amenities in a striking venue. Stroll through the grounds of the 400-acre countryside estate. Challenge yourself on the picturesque golf course, designed by Pete Dye. Test your skill on the court with the award-winning tennis programme by Peter Burwash. Or retreat to the spacious, all-suite accommodations to enjoy a wood-burning fireplace and expansive mountain views. Savour incomparable luxury and leisure in an exquisite setting. 

San Luis Obispo

Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a Tuscan mansion style residence, located in the heart of the Southern California vineyard region, an ideal place to break the drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco and to see a different side of the state, a popular getaway for Californians.

The hotel is located within twenty acres of Italianate gardens, grape vines and orchards, reflecting the fertile rolling Californian countryside. Rooms are comfortable and modern, and reflect the European style, many with a terrace ideal for a few glasses of local wine in the Californian sun. Cello Ristorante is a destination Mediterranean restaurant and there’s a wine tasting room offering wines from the Allegretto vineyard.  Not forgetting a spa, vineyard tours available, a relaxing pool and plenty of outdoor space – it’s an ideal location a little off the beaten track.

Santa Monica

Shutters on the Beach

‘Boutique Retreat near Santa Monica Pier’

This beautiful beach boutique is what American dreams are made of, with gracious guestrooms, elegant suites and a choice of three restaurants providing a great cornerstone for your California getaway. A shorty, sandy stroll from the iconic Santa Monica Pier, Shutters on the Beach offers a range of simple seaside pleasures. Beach volleyball, table tennis and the Malibu to Manhattan Beach bike path are at hand for active bodies, while yoga on the beach and One Spa are at the service of mind and soul.

San Diego

The US Grant

‘An Elegant Hotel Surrounded By Attractions’

The US Grant is located in the heart of San Diego, surrounded by many signature attractions including the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, The Gaslamp Quarter and Birch Aquarium. The rooms available are decorated with stylish French & Native Indian artwork and elegant furnishings. The hotel hosts an exquisite restaurant, two lounges, a fitness centre, a spa and a gift shop.

17 Days from £4,650 per person
Based on 2 adults sharing

This trip includes

International flights based on direct British Airways

Hotels as featured on room only basis

11 days convertible car hire

Private arrival transfer in San Francisco

San Francisco Alcatraz tour with Hop on and off bus tickets

San Francisco Bay sunset catamaran cruise

Full Day Yosemite join-in tour

Private gourmet beach picnic in Santa Monica

This trip excludes

Meals unless otherwise stated

Tailor make these tours with Destinology

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The Destinology Distinction

We partner with only the finest hotels & resorts that we feel exemplify the Destinology experience. It’s these close relationships that help us to offer our clients that little bit more. We live luxury and we think you should too.

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