The great north California road trip

24 October 2019

The great North of California is an eclectic region where stunning natural beauty and diverse and brilliant human culture intertwine to create a compelling destination that welcomes visitors with open arms.  

From the urban metropolis of San Francisco to the picturesque landscape of South Lake Tahoe and the inviting wine region of Sonoma County, the winding highways of Northern California beckon…

Days 1-2: San Francisco arrival

Touch down at San Francisco International Airport and begin to explore this incredible city. San Francisco has a well-earned reputation for being a must-see city. Known for its cool summers, foggy bay, steep hills and eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, and its Chinatown district, you could spend your entire trip in San Francisco and barely scratch the surface.

Take a ride on a cable car over the city's hilly streets and experience the way people have commuted across San Fran since the late 19th Century. Head to Fisherman’s Wharf to greet the resident sea lions and wander through the waterfront marketplace.

Take dinner in one of the city's many exceptional eateries, featuring several Michelin starred restaurants. 

Collect your hire car as you're about to depart San Francisco and head to Santa Rosa.

Suggested hotels – Hilton San Francisco Union Square / The Handley Union Square

Day 3: San Francisco to Sonoma County

Upon arrival in Sonoma County, explore the city of Santa Rosa. Its thriving downtown boasts three distinct shopping districts, five historic residential neighborhoods, arts and culture, events, great restaurants, famous chefs, wine tasting rooms, brew pubs, and a comfortable inviting atmosphere. Be sure to visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, which is dedicated to the famed 'Peanuts' cartoonist.

As the county seat of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa is an excellent base from which to explore the wider destination. A trip to the west will see you amongst the ancient California redwoods, followed by the charming seaside villages, and 55 miles (80 kilometers) of rugged Pacific coastline to explore.

DRIVING DISTANCE: 55 miles

Day 4: Sonoma County

Take an early trip north to the Dry Creek Valley, a rural wine region just outside the city of Healdsburg, and a short drive south from the small town of Cloverdale. With a grape-growing history going back 140 years, Dry Creek Valley includes more than 9,000 vineyard acres and over 70 wineries, and is best known for its robust Zinfandel wines. Then, in the afternoon, head southeast to the lush Sonoma Valley. Abundance is the norm here, offering visitors a delightful mix of beautiful vistas, wine tasting, farm-fresh cuisine, California history, art, shopping, and outdoor adventures.

Days 5-6: Santa Rosa to South Lake Tahoe

Take the scenic drive east to South Lake Tahoe. Whether you visit in winter or summer, there is an exhilarating range of activities on offer around the lake. From mountain biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and relaxing on the beaches in the summer sun to skiing down the snow blanketed mountain slopes in winter, the great outdoors is at the heart of this picturesque city.

After a day of activities, the city’s vibrant array of restaurants and bars welcome you in with their warm inviting atmosphere.

Spend another day in the great outdoors experiencing every thrill that this magical lakeside resort city offers up. For a world class round of golf, work your way around Edgewood Tahoe and challenge yourself with one of the most stunning backdrops in world golf. By night, hope that the odds are in your favour at the casinos of the adjacent Stateline.

Suggested hotel – Marriott Timber’s Lodge

DRIVING DISTANCE: 198 miles

Days 7-8: South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite

Work your way south to Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. This protected area is home to breathtaking waterfalls, glacier carved valleys, vast meadows and unique wildlife. Here, you can walk the park's plethora of trails amongst the giant, ancient sequoia trees and head to Tunnel View viewpoint for the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.

Spend the morning in the quaint Yosemite Village which has shops, restaurants, accommodation, and the Ansel Adams Gallery, with prints of the photographer’s renowned black-and-white landscapes of the area. In the afternoon, complete your checklist of waterfalls and take in the clean mountain air on another hike through the stunning landscape.

Suggested hotel- Yosemite View Lodge / Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

DRIVING DISTANCE: 123 miles

Days 9-10: Yosemite to San Francisco

Drive back to the coast and to the metropolis of San Francisco. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and don’t forget your camera as the views are dazzling.

DRIVING DISTANCE: 167 miles

Return your rental car at San Francisco International Airport prior to your departure.

 

To book your road trip across the eclectic north of California, contact your Travel Counsellor today and take advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to support you before, during and even after your trip.

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