Explore Northern California

12 nights self-drive tour

Price from: £2249pp

San Francisco 2 nights
Eureka 2 nights
Redding 1 night 
Chester 1 night
Lake Tahoe 2 nights
Yosemite National Park 2 nights
Sonoma 2 nights

Day 1: Fly to San Francisco. On arrival make your way to your hotel.

Day 2 San Francisco: Stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf and watch the seals, explore Golden Gate Park or stroll across the city’s icon, the Golden Gate Bridge. If time allows, take a ride on a cable car or book a ticket for nearby Alcatraz Island.

Day 3 San Francisco/Eureka: Collect your car and take less travelled roads to discover California’s wild north coast. Stopping points along the way include Point Reyes National Seashore and the charming hamlet of Mendocino. Eureka is the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon and is an inviting place with hundreds of ornate  19th century homes that reflect the town’s formative years when lumber was king  (271 miles).

Day 4 Eureka: Start your explorations along the waterfront, where a pretty esplanade provides views of the harbour and adjacent Humboldt Bay.  Eureka is also the southern gateway to the Redwood National & State Parks, one of California’s crown jewels and highly recommended. This spectacular network of national and state parks has dozens of soft paths letting you walk among the soaring redwoods, which grow over 350 feet.

Day 5 Eureka/Redding: Before you depart, perhaps visit Eureka’s small Maritime Museum, or soak up the history in the adjacent Old Town. Your route today takes you through Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a huge wilderness area with lakes and trails. Continue onwards to the outdoor paradise of Redding (147 miles).

Day 6 Redding/Chester: A short drive brings you to the quaint town of Chester, a great base for exploring Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic National Park. Manmade Lake Almanor has something for everyone, including family-friendly activities and picture-perfect mountain vistas. Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes and numerous volcanoes (87 miles).

Day 7 Chester/Lake Tahoe: Travel onwards to the massive Lake Tahoe which straddles the California-Nevada border. Blue as topaz and encircled by majestic peaks, it’s not only incredibly scenic but a place to really embrace the great outdoors. You’ll find activities galore from hiking and biking trails, to just about all manner of water craft and, in winter, there’s skiing, snowboarding and more (127 miles).

Day 8 Lake Tahoe: Ride the gondola to the top of the mountain to take in the far-reaching views. Hire a mountain bike and pedal around the Tahoe Rim Trail, or hotfoot it to the granite wonderland of Desolation Wilderness. For leisurely water fun, spend some time paddle boarding or kayaking around the lake. Of course, you can simply find somewhere to kick back and do nothing more than drink in the surrounding vistas.

Day 9 Lake Tahoe/Yosemite National Park: Return to the road today and head south to the extraordinary Yosemite National Park, sure to be a highlight of your tour (188 miles).

Day 10 Yosemite National Park: Famed for its plunging waterfalls and massive granite formations, this unparalleled parkland dazzles with unforgettable natural beauty. Make the most of the public transit system which meanders around the park, allowing you to take in sights such as El Capitan, the Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point.

Day 11 Yosemite National Park/Sonoma: Enjoy further time exploring Yosemite National Park before you get back behind the wheel and head for Sonoma, in the heart of California Wine Country (176 miles).

Day 12 Sonoma: Wine enthusiasts, whether seasoned or novice, will find more than 100 wineries here, from striking castles and garden chateaus to modern lounges and Mediterranean-style villas. Many open their doors allowing you to try out the award-winning wines.

Day 13 Sonoma/San Francisco: Return your car at the airport (56 miles) for your onward journey.

What you need to know

Departures: Daily.

Accommodation: 3*Plus Handlery Union Square,  San Francisco; 3* Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay, Eureka; 3* Hampton Inn & Suites, Redding; 3* Best Western Rose Quartz Inn, Chester; 3* Hotel Azure, Lake Tahoe; 4* Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite NP; 3* Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma, Wine Country.

Meals: Room only except Eureka and Chester where continental breakfast included and Redding and Sonoma where breakfast included.

Tour price: The price shown is based on the best value travel dates in low season and includes international flights to and from San Francisco, accommodation and 11 days fully inclusive compact 4 door car hire.

Why not tour by Motorhome?

Explore Northern California is also available with a motorhome rather than a car. The price shown includes return international flights, one pre-night at Hilton Garden Inn San Mateo, San Francisco and a C30 motorhome for 12 days.

12 night self-drive motorhome tour from £1999pp

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Explore Northern California

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