Fly Drives › Fly Drive - California Grand Tour

A classic California fly drive Holiday. Itinerary in depth below!

Day 1: San Francisco
As soon as you reach San Francisco, you can start to aquaint yourself with the city on the Barbary Coast Trail, a 3.8 mile stroll (or drive) through the heart of historic San Francisco. Bronze medallions and arrows set in the sidewalk mark the trail, which connects 20 of the citys most important historic sites. After that, try Fishermans Wharf, created when a large seawall was built to provide more docking space for ships. Ghirardelli Square, now a vibrant shopping area, was once home to the candy company of the same name. It will be hard to believe that Nob Hill was once an inaccessible backwater that became famous when four rich industrialists built their mansions high above the city. This evening, we suggest that you take the ferry to Alcatraz Island from Pier 33. Even though Alcatraz is best known as a solitary prison, it also has other interesting history.

Day 2: San Francisco
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area covers the entire area north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio of San Francisco, Alcatraz and Muir Woods National Monument are all units of the Golden Gate. In fact, the collection of parks that make up the Golden Gate National Recreation Area chronicle 200 years of history from Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic to maritime history, the California Gold Rush and the coastal fortifications around San Francisco. The exploration possibilities are nearly endless. The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park located at Hyde Pier features three historic ships for touring.

Day 3: Yosemite
Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, massive 1,200-square-mile Yosemite National Park is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, thousands of lakes, 1,600 miles of clear streams, giant sequoia groves, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 350 miles of roads.  Two federally designated wild and scenic rivers, nothing can prepare you for the jaw dropping beauty along its fabled coast and village-like pedestrian thoroughfares. John Steinbeck was a frequent visitor and drew considerable inspiration from area landmarks, including Cannery Row, which he helped to immortalize in his novel of the same name. Today, restaurants, boutiques and attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium have helped make Monterey a favorite destination for visitors from around the world. 
Accommodations: Old Monterey Inn

Day 6: Carmel
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint coastal enclave tucked somewhere between the sites and sophistication of San Francisco and Southern California, a community where you can abandon your car to experience the town on foot.  The walkable warren of streets whose slope is dictated by the trees, unnumbered houses, storefronts and cottages, harkening back to a time when everybody knew everybody else by name.  It is, in large part, still like that.  In lieu of street numbers, cottages bear names as quirky as racehorses, most

of which have never changed.  Its considered bad luck.  This is a place to get away from it all without sacrificing those who travel the world are unlikely to encounter another place that has so much to offer in one location.
Accommodations: Old Monterey Inn

Day 7: San Luis Obispo
A day of spectacular sights and sounds awaits as you travel through the land of crashing waves and barking seals along the Pacific Coast Highway.  You are on the right side of the road to marvel at the rocky windswept cliffs where the land falls off directly into the sea.  It’s scenery at its best and hard to describe in words.  There are several California State Parks along the way, including Julia Pfeiffer State Park, the Andrew Molera State Park and the Point Sur State Historic Park.  There are also several beaches to enjoy along the way.  The northern end of the road is the Big Sur Coast Highway and the southern end, the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. Both are National Scenic Byways.  It’s only an hour from the Big Sur to San Simeon and another hour to Pismo Beach.  You’ll be surprised how fast it goes and how much scenery is packed into the trip.
Accommodations: San Luis Creek Lodge

Day 8: Santa Barbara
Known as “The American Riviera,” the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara, nestled against the Santa Inez Mountains, has the sophistication of a city with the feel of a small community.  Its fascinating history includes its founding by the famous Jesuit priest Father Junipero Serro in 1782 as one of a series of missions along the California coast. The Mission has been a working church since 1794 and is well worth a visit. The earthquake of 1925 forced a stricter building code that resulted in the lovely Spanish-Moorish architecture that draws visitors to downtown Santa Barbara today. Shopping becomes a sensory experience as you meander down cobbled streets and paseos into fragrant courtyards lined with unique boutiques and galleries.
Accommodations: Inn of the Spanish Garden

Day 9: Santa Barbara
If relaxing on the beach is your idea of the perfect holiday, Santa Barbara offers a number of wonderful choices.  East Beach is known as one of the best beaches in the country, while Butterfly Beach attracts celebrities staying across the street at the luxury Biltmore Hotel.  In between, you can rent a kayak at West Beach, and have lunch with your feet in the sand at the Shoreline Beach Café on Leadbetter Beach.  Santa Barbara Beach is perfect for children—build sandcastles and play in the waves!  If you feel like getting out into the countryside, the wine country in the Santa Ynez Mountains is only an hour away.  The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail takes you to about a dozen wineries on a gorgeous California road. 
Accommodations: Inn of the Spanish Garden

Day 10: Santa Monica
The famous Route 66 or “Mother Road” meets the Pacific Ocean at the Santa Monica Pier.  Many dreams have begun here, as Americans made their way across the country from Chicago in the 1920s in search of a better life.  Pacific Park is the only amusement park in California to be located on a pier.  The country’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, the Pacific Wheel, provides great views of the Southern California coastline amid thousands of brightly colored lights.  Classic boardwalk games, food kiosks, a carousel and a trapeze school make this a fun environment for adults and children alike. 
Accommodations: The Georgian

Day 11: Santa Monica
While staying in Santa Monica, if you decide to venture into Los Angeles, we recommend that you visit the Getty Center.  Perched high on a hill above the city the views over Los Angeles are spectacular. Another side trip from Santa Monica, Newport Beach, is only a short drive away.  In addition to spectacular beaches, the city is made up of nine distinct neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm, culture, history and natural beauty.  Explore one or all of these very special places: Fashion Island, Balboa and surrounding islands, Balboa Penninsula, Cannery Village, Mariner’s Mile, Back Bay, Corona Del Mar, Airport Area, and Newport Coast/Crystal Cove. 
Accommodations: The Georgian

Day 12: San Diego
A great way to get familiar with San Diego is by taking the 59-Mile Scenic Drive, following the seagull signs that mark the route.  It takes you past most of San Diego’s major attractions, including the Cabrillo National Monument where Spanish explorers landed in 1542, Old Town – the most historic part of San Diego, and wonderful Balboa Park.  A short side trip takes you to Mission San Diego De Alcala, the first of the 21 missions that comprised the El Camino Real along the California coast.
Accommodations: Omni San Diego

Day 13: San Diego
You’ll want to spend the day today exploring Balboa Park, the nation’s largest cultural park and one of America’s truly great cultural resources.  Fifteen major museums, several gardens, restaurants, performing arts venues and the San Diego Zoo are all congregated together in a beautifully landscaped setting that originally housed the Panama-California Exposition of 1915.  It was the first of two Expos that created many of the cultural institutions as well as the stunning architecture still extant today.
Accommodations: Omni San Diego

Day 14: Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a true oasis in the California desert.  For a complete view of the region, take the Palms to Pines National Scenic Byway that takes you from downtown and over the mountains that rise up behind the city.  By the time you have reached the top, you’ll be surrounded by massive pine trees on a meandering scenic road.   If you want to have a view over the area, ride the rotating tram cars offer a breathtakingly beautiful ride to the mountaintop. Take a light jacket, since it can be 20 to 30 degrees cooler at the top.   There are many miles of hiking trails, including a one mile nature walk through picturesque Long Valley, located just behind the Trams Mountain Station.
Accommodations: Calle Lily Inn

Day 15: Palm Springs
Joshua Tree National Park is a not to be missed attraction in Palm Springs.  This immense reserve of nearly 800,000 acres is infinitely variable.  Massive boulders in the central portion look as if they have been piled up by giants.  In between the fields are dotted with the unique Joshua trees.  At the lower levels, the rocks subside and the terrain more gently gives way to the desert.   Until you understand the forms were and are still special nature of the geography, the Park can appear as dropped by giants from another planet.  The land being shaped by strong winds, sudden torrents of rain, and climatic extremes.  Plan to leave enough time to experience a safe and pleasant journey home, knowing that you have had a trip of a lifetime through California.

Example Itinerary

This itinerary is just an example and your holiday will be tailored to match your requirements.

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