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Self-Drive: Coastal California and the Bright Lights of Las Vegas

13 days from £1719 per person

The ultimate west coast road-trip, follow iconic Highway 1 from elegant San Francisco to the bright lights of LA before heading through the desert to the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas. Beginning in San Francisco, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the ferry to infamous Alcatraz Island before heading south following the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway. Soak up the sun in lively Santa Cruz, experience Californian beach-life in Monterey, Carmel and San Simeon then spend three nights discovering the distinctive neighbourhoods of Los Angeles. Crossing the desert, end your journey exploring the casinos, restaurants and outlandish architecture of the legendary Las Vegas strip.

Route: San Francisco – Monterey – San Simeon – Los Angeles – Las Vegas

Itinerary Highlights

Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge before the fog arrives and see the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, a waterfront marketplace that’s popular with visitors and locals alike.

Soak up the relaxed lifestyle as you travel down the coast along the breathtakingly beautiful Big Sur and into the fruitful wine country.

Take an obligatory photo next to the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign and revel in the glitz and glamour of the main strip.

Itinerary: Self-Drive Coastal California and the Bright Lights of Las Vegas

This morning depart the UK on your international flight to San Francisco. On arrival collect your hire car and drive to your hotel for a three night stay. Multi-coloured Victorian homes, bustling wharves home to resident sea lions, world-class restaurants, museums and art galleries, the island prison of Alcatraz and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco is the ultimate Californian city. Founded by Spanish settlers and built with Californian gold, famed for its fog and colourful 1960s hippie counter-culture, the remainder of the day is at leisure to relax and explore this fabulous city. (N)

Accommodation in San Francisco: Serrano Hotel (or similar)

Over the next two days you are free to explore under your own arrangements. San Francisco is a city of very distinct districts and there is plenty to see and do. Head to Pier 33 and take the ferry to Alcatraz then visit the crab shacks at Fisherman’s Wharf or the markets of the Ferry Building. Despite its hills San Francisco is a walking city but take one of the famous rickety cable cars. If you can, remember to stop at Lombard Street, ‘the most crooked street in the world’, Coit Tower for stunning views and Haight-Ashbury – enclave of the 60s hippie movement. Sports fans may like to watch the baseball at AT&T Park or wine lovers can drive out of the city to visit the vineyards of Napa Valley. (N)

Accommodation in San Francisco: Serrano Hotel (or similar)

Leaving San Francisco drive south to Santa Cruz to visit the famous Beach Boardwalk – California’s oldest surviving amusement park. Ride the 90 year-old wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and historic Looff Carousel, which dates to 1911, then continue to Monterey for an overnight stay. Despite its Spanish connections, adobe buildings and links to author John Steinbeck, Monterey is best known for its marine life and distinguished aquarium. Take a walk along Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf, spot sea lion, seal and dolphin in the bay and, should you wish, visit the excellent Monterey Bay Aquarium. (N)

Accommodation in Monterey: Bay Park Hotel (or similar)

Today’s route following Highway 1 along Big Sur is arguably one of the finest coastal drives in the world. Hugging the cliff-edge, wind your way to San Simeon with the Pacific Ocean on one side and forests of giant redwood on the other. Spend the morning in upmarket Carmel – Clint Eastwood was once its mayor – and, close to San Simeon, you may want to visit the astonishingly opulent Hearst Castle which was built in the first half of the 20th century for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Stay overnight in the small town of San Simeon. (N)

Accommodation in San Simeon: The Sands by the Sea (or similar)

This morning you will continue your journey towards Los Angeles possibly stopping to break the drive in Santa Barbara – a laid-back Californian beach-town of swaying palms, sandy beaches and white-washed buildings. Drive on to Los Angeles and your hotel where you will stay for the next three nights. Glamorous and gritty in equal measure, and the second largest city in the US, this city of contrasts has something for everyone. Mingle with A-List stars or follow in their footsteps on Hollywood Boulevard, shop in luxury boutiques, eat fabulous street-food, contemplate some of the finest collections of art in the world or rediscover your youth at world-famous Disneyland. (N)

Accommodation in Los Angeles: Millennium Biltmore (or similar)

Over the next two days you are at leisure to explore Los Angeles. Head to Griffith Park and the 1930s Griffith Observatory for breathtaking views of the city and iconic ‘Hollywood’ sign, enjoy world class art at the Getty Centre and LACMA or visit one of the city’s three theme parks – Disneyland, Universal Studios and California Adventure. Beach lovers should spend an afternoon in upmarket Santa Monica or neighbouring eccentric Venice Beach with its street performers, artists and Muscle Beach bodybuilders. For the best restaurants, the regenerated Downtown, Little Tokyo and Koreatown are difficult to beat. (N)

Accommodation in Los Angeles: Millennium Biltmore (or similar)

This morning leave Los Angeles driving east through the central valley and skirting the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas possibly stopping on the way to visit the Calico ghost town close to Barstow which was abandoned in 1907. On arrival in Las Vegas drop off your car and head to the hotel where you will stay for the next three nights. The self-billed ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’, Vegas is a bewildering blend of neon lights, luxurious hotels, dazzling casinos, world-class entertainment and some of the finest dining on offer in the country. (N)

Accommodation in Las Vegas: Luxor Hotel (or similar)

Spend the next two days exploring the city. Take the obligatory photo of the world-famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada’ sign then explore the strip and the mesmerising casinos that line it. Don’t forget to visit the Venetian, complete with replica Grand Canal, the fountain water show at the Bellagio and to take in one of the many excellent shows. Day trips can also be made to the Hoover Dam, once the tallest in the world, and the spellbinding Grand Canyon. (N)

Accommodation in Las Vegas: Luxor Hotel (or similar)

Today make your own way to Las Vegas International Airport in good time to catch your return flight to the UK. (N)
Arrive back into the UK in the morning. (N)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes
  • Car hire as specified

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Meals unless specified

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

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Experts in Tailor-Made Holidays

For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

Please call us for more information or complete the online enquiry form to request a quotation.

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