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Santa Barbara

  • Santa Barbara

    Santa Barbara is one of America’s best kept secrets. Sitting 323 miles south of San Francisco and 95 miles north of Los Angeles in an oceanfront location on the Pacific Coast Highway.

    • Harbor Coastline View


    • Santa Barbara Coastline In Sunset


    • Vineyard View


    • Mission Santa Barbara


    • Stand Up Paddleboarding


    It’s a perfect stop on a California coastal fly drive itinerary. Fondly recognised as the Mediterranean of the US, with its tiled terracotta roofs and white stucco buildings you’d be forgiven for forgetting you were in America. Blessed with glorious sunshine, framed by the San Ynez Mountains and breathtaking coastal scenery, Santa Barbara is a perfect destination at anytime of the year!

    There’s so much to see and do in the Santa Barbara region, no matter what your interests. Here’s just a few ideas to help you fill your days whilst visiting this beautiful part of southern California.

    If you’re interested in gardens, Santa Barbara county has a fabulous range for you to visit from the botanical gardens of Lotusland and Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens to the Orchid trail gardens of Cal-Orchid, Westerlay Orchids and Gallup & Stribling Orchids.

    Family Friendly Attractions & Activities
    Santa Barbara county has something for the whole family. Chase Palm Park is a 10 acre waterfront park that’s perfect for kids with playground areas, biking and rollerblading trails, music pavilion and carrousel and most evenings there’s some kind of musical, sporting or picnicking activity going on. The warm Pacific waters off the coast of Santa Barbara are a great place to experience whale watching so try a whale watching cruise with Condor Express. Enjoy a fun 15 minute trip on-board Santa Barbara’s water taxi or visit the Santa Barbara Zoo. Learn about the natural world at the Ty Warner Sea Center or rent a bike or a Segway and explore the streets, beaches and parks of the region.

    Wine Tasting & Tours
    Santa Barbara has an abundance of vineyards and winery’s. There are plenty of tours available for you to enjoy, from the Urban Wine Trail; which is wine tasting in the heart of the city, to the San Ynez Wine Tour; which visits three of the winery’s in the region and includes lunch to complement the wine tasting.

    Outdoor Adventure
    The options are endless! From ATV tours where you get to drive to deep sea fishing, glider flights, horseback riding, kayaking, paragliding, hiking and rock climbing…to name just a few!

    Theatres & Nightlife
    Whatever your taste in nightlife, Santa Barbara’s got it covered. Cultural options such as opera, ballet and the performing arts are found at The Granada Theatre, The Lobero Theatre or The Santa Barbara Bowl and if you’re looking for a great place to eat and then dance, Santa Barbara has a vast range of restaurants to suit all palates and pockets as well as a fabulous choice of nightclubs and lounges.

    Culinary Options
    We all love to eat so why not try one of the regions culinary tours. There’s anything from a 2 hour food tasting and photography walking tour along the Santa Barbara waterfront to half and full day tours to organic farms and farmers markets.

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    • Top Tip 1

      Everyone should drive Highway 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway, but our tip is to do it from north to south. Whichever direction you take the scenery is stunning but you get a better view going south because you're on the ocean side of the road.

    • Top Tip 2

      Hearst Castle is a must-see stop as you drive along the coast, taking you back to the early days of Hollywood.

    • Top Tip 3

      Wine tasting tours are plentiful in Napa and Sonoma. Our favourites are Jordan's and Chalk Hill. Try the Library Tasting tour, a wine and cheese pairing at Jordan's and the Culinary Tour at Chalk Hill, a wine and food pairing prepared by Chef Didier. Both are exceptional experiences and amazing value.

    • Top Tip 4

      Visit the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. On Thursdays, from 6pm, enjoy music, cocktails and entertainment whist experiencing world class exhibits and star gazing on the living roof.

    • Top Tip 5

      San Francisco - where do you start? Visit North Beach for the cafe culture, take a tour to Alcatraz (we recommend you pre-book it), see Lombard Street, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a sightseeing tour of the city on a fire engine, shop in Union Square.

    • Top Tip 6

      For spectacular scenery, and to escape from the desert heat, take a ride on the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway. If you're in downtown Palm Springs on Thursdays, you'll enjoy VillageFest, offering live entertainment and an array of stalls selling food and gifts.

    • Top Tip 7

      Yosemite National Park is one of California's great natural wonders. Stay for a couple of nights and include a guided horseback ride for a tour with a difference.

    • Top Tip 8

      Follow the scenic 17-Mile Drive coastal route between Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove for stunning views of the Monterey Peninsula. There's a small fee to drive this route but it's worth it.

    • Top Tip 9

      Rent a bike or rollerblades and enjoy people watching along the boardwalk at Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

    • Top Tip 10

      When visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, book the VIP ticket which allows you to jump the queues and includes behind-the-scenes access.

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  • California's Gold Coast

    Begins in Los Angeles, California and ends in San Francisco, California

    12 Days / 11 Nights

    Departures: April, May, June, July, August, September and October

    Add this Escorted Tour to planner

    Your escorted tour includes

    • Round trip scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic / Delta Air Lines
    • Accommodation for 11 nights as specified
    • 11 breakfasts, 7 lunches & 6 dinners
    • Air-conditioned motorcoach transportation
    • Services of a Tauck Tour Director
    • Classic tour
    • Santa Barbara


    • San Diego


    • Yosemite National Park


    • Hollywood Boulevard


    • Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego


    • California Gold Coast


    • Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles


    • Big Sur coast


    • Scenic Carmel beach



    Arrive Los Angeles

    Depart the UK on your Virgin Atlantic / Delta Air Lines flight to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, transfer to the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. This evening, join your travelling companions for a welcome reception and dinner. 

    Hotel: Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills ()


    Los Angeles

    Southern Californians have a legendary passion for cars and today you’ll begin exploring the dynamic city of Los Angeles with a tour of the historic automobiles, Hollywood cars, hot rods, and other extraordinary vehicles at the Petersen Automotive Museum. After lunch, explore downtown Los Angeles for a walking tour with visits to a historic Broadway theatre and the Bradbury Building, a 19th-century landmark with a magical Victorian courtyard featuring open cage elevators. Visit Grand Central Market, an iconic showcase for the diverse cuisines and cultures of Los Angeles. Take a ride on Angel’s Flight Railway and see some of the city’s most striking modern architecture, The Broad museum and Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Los Angeles (Breakfast and lunch included)


    Los Angeles

    Enjoy a tour through Beverly Hills, along Sunset Boulevard, and to the TCL Chinese Theatre movie palace on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where you’ll see the handprints of many celebrities. Then you’re off to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum for a guided tour and lunch. The museum and grounds are spectacular, with sweeping views of the Simi Valley, the surrounding mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. View an Air Force One aircraft that flew seven presidents, a recreated Oval Office, an exhibit on the Berlin Wall featuring parts of the wall itself, and more. Drive north to Santa Barbara, on the “American Riviera,” where you’ll dine at your hotel.

    Hotel: Belmond El Encanto (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)


    Santa Barbara

    Go on a guided tour of 18th-century Old Mission Santa Barbara, home to an active Franciscan parish for more than 200 years. Get a feel for the quiet beach community of Santa Barbara, long a celebrity hideaway, and visit the 1929 Courthouse, surrounded by lush gardens. Inside you’ll find murals depicting scenes of the city’s past, painted by a self-taught artist, whose illustrations appeared in the novels of Joseph Conrad and Jack London. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is California’s oldest, and a guided tour reveals the diversity of the state’s native flora and vegetation. This evening you’ll have free time to enjoy your ocean-view resort or explore downtown Santa Barbara.

    Hotel: Belmond El Encanto (Breakfast and lunch included)


    Central Coast and Morro Bay

    Get ready for scenic delights as you pass through rolling hills on this morning’s road trip along coastal Highway 101. Entering the Central California wine region, you’ll find microclimates where morning fog and ocean breezes encourage varieties such as pinot noir and chardonnay, and others where low-lying mountains are ideal for full-bodied reds – as you’ll learn on a vineyard tour and tasting.  Discover picturesque Solvang, a town with a distinctive Danish heritage, and enjoy lunch, a tour, and a tasting at Presqu’ile, a small family-owned winery. The evening is spent at The Cliffs Resort, a fabulous hotel overlooking the Pacific in Pismo Beach.

    Hotel: The Cliffs Resort (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)


    Big Sur & Hearst Castle

    Drive along stunning Pacific Coast Highway 1 to San Simeon and Hearst Castle, a national and California Historical Landmark designed by revered California architect Julia Morgan. This elaborate estate created for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst takes you back to the opulent era of the early 20th century; the castle was the inspiration for Xanadu, the over-the-top mansion in Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. After your guided tour, it’s nature’s opulence that will impress you as you continue along the Pacific Coast, hundreds of feet above crashing surf and remote, rocky beaches, to the Big Sur Coast. Your destination today is the coastal city of Monterey, where you’ll dine at your hotel on Monterey Bay.

    Hotel: InterContinental, The Clement Monterey (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)


    Monterey & Carmel

    Today’s tour of the Monterey Peninsula takes in the beauty of Pacific Grove, famed 17-Mile Drive, and Pebble Beach before you arrive in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which has been named one of the “most romantic cities of the world". Enjoy free time to explore the town’s galleries and find an appealing spot for lunch, before heading off to the award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium to discover the delights of marine life, from cuttlefish to whales.

    Hotel: InterContinental, The Clement Monterey (Breakfast included)


    Yosemite National Park

    Agriculture takes center stage as you leave the coast and drive through the fertile farms, orchards, and vineyards of California’s Central Valley en route to Yosemite National Park. Abundant sunshine, superb soil, and year-round growing conditions make this region an important crop-basket for American households. Broccoli, chard, asparagus, pistachios, pomegranates, and many other varieties of produce grow here. After lunch in Merced, your route continues from the valley to the oak-lined roadways and Victorian towns of Gold Country. In 1848, news of this precious metal spread like wildfire, leading to explosive population growth. From men seeking their fortune in mining to the merchants, bankers, and women followed. At the Mariposa Museum & History Center, you’ll learn about the lives of the miners and others who shaped this area. Arrive at Yosemite National Park in the late afternoon, where you'll spend the next two nights at the historic Majestic Yosemite Hotel.

    Hotel: Majestic Yosemite Hotel (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)


    Yosemite National Park

    Despite Yosemite Valley being only seven miles long and less than a mile wide, it hosts an array of national treasures within its sheer, high walls. World-famous cliffs like El Capitan and Half Dome, plunging waterfalls like Bridalveil Falls, wild meadows and the meandering Merced River, birds to delight any birdwatcher and much more. Get acquainted with the valley on a morning walk guided by a naturalist, then spend the rest of the day exploring Yosemite National Park as you please.

    Hotel: Majestic Yosemite Hotel (Breakfast included)


    San Francisco

    On your way from Yosemite to San Francisco, visit Jamestown for lunch at the historic National Hotel built during the height of the Gold Rush. Arrive in San Francisco late this afternoon, with time to rest, relax, or explore the area surrounding Union Square. Your hotel is in a vibrant retail and cultural area in the heart of the city where you’ll discover a favourite city square where you will be entertained by musicians, artists, or performers. Sample a range of cuisines inspired by fresh ingredients at one of the recommended restaurants in this city.

    Hotel: The Westin St Francis (Breakfast and lunch included)


    San Francisco

    A sightseeing tour takes you up and down San Francisco’s hills with views of San Francisco Bay as you see Chinatown and the Marina District, rows of Victorian gingerbread houses, and Coit Tower. Go for a walk along the Golden Gate Bridge and feel the breezes of the bay on a private catamaran cruise. Head to the salty atmosphere of Fisherman’s Wharf for free time for lunch and checking out its historic ships, sea lions, seafood stalls, and sourdough bread bakeries. This evening enjoy farewell festivities at a Chateau Montelena winemaker reception with tastings followed by a wine-paired chef’s dinner.

    Hotel: The Westin St Francis (Breakfast and dinner included)


    Journey Home

    There may be time for some last minute shopping or sightseeing before your transfer to the airport to check-in for your flight back to the UK with Virgin.


    From £4896 per person based on twin occupancy of Standard rooms in low season. Other prices available on request.