Experience the best that nature can provide, a chance to see some of California’s most distinctive wineries and sparkling wine cellars, and enjoy a California small town experience offered in the numerous Northern California communities highlighted on this itinerary. The beautiful North Coast, California’s Redwoods, wild and scenic rivers, and its fiery volcanic interior begin just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Day 1: San Francisco
Arrive in San Francisco and transfer to your central hotel. We would suggest a minimum of 3 nights in this fantastic city. Take a city tour, ride the cable care, take a cruise around the harbour, visit Alcatraz, museums, art galleries, Chinatown.
San Francisco 3 nights
Day 4: San Francisco to Marin County
This morning pick up your hire car and drive out over the Golden Gate into beautiful Marin County. Explore the pretty little bay side town of Sausalito, famed for its galleries and restaurants, take a ferry over to Angel Island for some of the best views of the Bay area, explore legendary Muir Woods National Monument, a remnant of the ancient coastal redwood forests that blanketed many Northern California coastal valleys before the 1800s, travel north on coastal Highway 1 and explore the Point Reyes National Seashore…
Novato 1 night
Day 5: Sonoma
Marin County is the gateway to the Sonoma Wine Regions. Spend the day exploring the rolling hills of this beautiful region, driving along winding county roads through vineyards and orchards, visiting some of the famous wineries and restaurants. Or sit back and enjoy a guided winery tour, complete with gourmet picnic lunch at a scenic winery overlooking the vineyards. Depending on where you want to wander you can spend the night in either Santa Rosa or Ukiah in neighbouring Mendocino Country.
Santa Rosa 1 night
Day 6: Mendocino
Today drive over the coastal mountain range to the coast taking time to visit family owned wineries, microbreweries or some of America’s best sparkling wine houses. Visit the historic village of Mendocino on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, stop off at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, take a ride through towering redwoods on the historic “Skunk Train”, then visit a local fishing harbour to sample some of the region’s seafood.
Mendocino 1 night
Day 7: Eureka
Drive along California’s North Coast on Highway 1, adjacent to the rocky shoreline, before heading inland to rejoin Highway 101. Visit the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the world-famous Avenue of the Giants to walk among the world’s tallest trees. Continuing north, take a short detour to the Victorian village of Ferndale, often used as a film set. Just north of Ferndale is the City of Eureka with its historic Old Town district and waterfront boardwalk, your base for 2 nights. Head north, exploring some of the gorgeous beaches along this lovely stretch of coastline. Explore Redwood National Park and enjoy one of the many hiking trails through the Redwoods. This area also includes spectacular Fern Canyon featured in one of the Jurassic Park films.
Eureka 2 nights
Day 9: Redding
Drive inland along the beautiful Trinity Scenic Byway – this will take you through quaint towns such as Willow Creek, home of the Bigfoot Museum, Weaverville and Whiskeytown. Enjoy some of Shasta Cascade’s most spectacular scenery, perhaps take a rafting trip on the Trinity River, stop off for a swim or a kayak tour on Whiskeytown Lake. The area around Redding and Mount Shasta is known for its pristine sapphire blue mountain lakes and rivers, dramatic waterfalls, forests, and miles of backcountry trails; the area offers exceptional skiing and snowboarding during the winter with fly fishing, cycling and mountain biking, horseback riding, rafting and hiking during the summer. Shasta Lake is considered the best boating lake in California and numerous marinas provide the opportunity to rent a boat for the day.
Redding 2 nights
Day 11: Lassen Volcanic Park
Today drive east to Lassen Volcanic National Park for a 2 night stay in the heart of the National Park. Here you will experience the authentic Old West – the accommodation is quaint and rustic, most has no electricity. Spend a day exploring the park, renowned for its clear mountain lakes, numerous volcanoes, smoking fumeroles and beautiful wildflower meadows. Try horseback riding, hiking, swimming, fishing… or just relax. Lassen 2 nights
Day 13: Lake Tahoe
And finally on to Lake Tahoe for a 2 night stay. The drive takes you along part of the Feather River Scenic Byway – pass waterfalls, forested slopes, gigantic rock outcrops and beautiful meadows. You will then join the Yuba Donner Scenic Byway, the route travelled by the ill-fated Donner party and other California 49er’s. Take time to visit the Donner Memorial State Park where the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument tell the stories of those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800’s. Drive along Lake Tahoe’s West Shore Drive, viewed by some as the “most beautiful drive in America”, for breathtaking views of the crystal blue lake.
Lake Tahoe 2 nights
Day 15: Depart San Francisco
Back to San Francisco, arriving in time for your onward or return flights. If time allows, visit the State Capitol, Sacramento; the historic Old Town is now home to galleries, restaurants, boutiques and shops – a great place for last minute souvenirs.
More time? – then consider adding a day or two in Yosemite or drive down the stunning California coast to Los Angeles.
Credit Oregon Tourism
Credit California Tourism