Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

The Golden Triangle

Visit San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Death Valley NP, Yosemite NP and Napa Valley.

The Golden Triangle... our best selling road trip adventure

14 Nights from £1,699pp
i
‘from’ prices are based on off peak travel, 2 people sharing a standard car, economy flights and 3* Hotels. All trips are completely bespoke so just tell your expert any requirements you have.

The Golden Triangle tour is our most popular road trip, as it visits some of the USA’s best natural & man-made wonders, all within an action-packed 14-night itinerary. There is so much to see and experience on this epic journey; the Golden Triangle includes coastal, desert and mountain roads, along with time to explore three of America’s very best cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In summary, The Golden Triangle road trip offers one life-changing experience after another; it’s no wonder this is our best-selling road trip.

Key road trip highlights:

  • At least two full days visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Let us know if you want additional time to explore these outstanding cities, and we’ll add extra days.
  • Drive through stunning California and Nevada scenery throughout the road trip, including California’s three most celebrated roads – The Pacific Coast Highway, US-395 and CA-190, which passes through Death Valley.
  • Visit three outstanding National Parks – Yosemite, Death Valley and Joshua Tree.
  • Enjoy a day or two in the picturesque wine region of Napa and Sonoma Valley.
  • Please be aware that this road trip is only available from May to October, as shown below, due to snow-affected roads in Yosemite National Park. We can work around this; please call us to discuss the available options if you wish to travel between November and April.
  • What’s included? Direct flights with a premier carrier like Virgin Atlantic, accommodation to your desired standard and length of stay, car rental and a detailed road trip pack.
The Golden Triangle route with The American Road Trip Company

Our Favourite Hotels

We’ll suggest properties to match your preferred budget, be it low-cost, mid-range or high-end luxury that you’re looking for. We can also mix it up so you’ll experience a range of standards and experiences along your road trip.

Evergreen Lodge, Yosemite National Park in California

Hotel:

Evergreen Lodge

Location:

Yosemite National Park

River Terrace Inn, Napa Valley, Napa Wine region

Hotel:

River Terrace Inn

Location:

Napa Valley

Harbor View Inn, Santa Barbara

Hotel:

Harbor View Inn

Location:

Santa Barbara

The Garland Hotel, Los Angeles

Hotel:

The Garland

Location:

Los Angeles

The Inn at Death Valley, Furnace Creek

Hotel:

The Inn at Death Valley

Location:

Death Valley National Park

Argonaut Hotel, San Francisco

Hotel:

Argonaut Hotel

Location:

San Francisco

Carmel Valley Ranch, Big Sur

Hotel:

Carmel Valley Ranch

Location:

Big Sur

Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

Hotel:

Bellagio

Location:

Las Vegas

Road Trip Itinerary

All of our road trips can be tailored to meet your requirements. Do you have more or less than 14 days for your road trip? No problem, we can bolt on extra nights to allow more time to explore or shorten the number of destinations as required.

1

Arrive in San Francisco, California

You won’t need your rental car for the first few days of this tour, so grab a cab at the airport and head straight into “The Golden City”. Before getting your head down for the night, why not step out on the steep streets of San Francisco and enjoy a meal at one of the city’s outstanding restaurants.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA
2

San Francisco has so much to see and do

After the morning fog lifts, one of the USA’s favourite cities will be revealed. Ride the iconic cable cars from one visitor attraction to the next; highlights include Coit Tower, Lombard Street and shopping in Union Square. Packed with Victorian charm and famous movie locations, your essential Road Trip Pack will help you prioritise San Francisco’s visitor attractions. After a full day of exploring San Fran, consider finishing the day with dinner in Chinatown, one of the oldest in the USA.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, USA
3

Explore the Fisherman's Wharf area for the day

Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island can all be enjoyed in a single day. Start the day by hiring a bike or tandem from Blazing Saddles, and then follow the bike path over the Golden Gate Bridge to the delightful small town of Sausalito. After returning your wheels, stroll through Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy a well-earned meal in one of The Wharf’s many restaurants. To complete this epic day, we recommend taking a late afternoon or early evening ferry to Alcatraz Island.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California, USA
4

Time to start your Golden Triangle road trip

Collect your car and hit the road. First up is surf-obsessed Santa Cruz and its famous Boardwalk. Further down Highway 1 lies Monterey, once famous for its whaling and sardine industry. Today, it focuses on marine preservation at the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey is also world-famous for its Whale Watching cruises. Complete the day with a short drive along “17-Mile Drive” to your hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This scenic toll road takes you on a quick tour past rugged beaches, millionaire homes and wind-blown cypress trees. Watch Seals bask in the sun and Sea Otters bob up and down in the waves.

Location:

Carmel, CA

Drive:

120 miles

Humpback Whale in Monterey Bay, California, USA
5

Spend the day exploring Carmel by the Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea offers two of the USA’s best beaches, backed by a charming small town with charming homes, high-quality restaurants and quaint streets. To the north of Carmel is the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Course, and to the south is the wild and wonderful Point Lobos State Reserve. Carmel is not the most well-known place along this route; however, returning road-trippers often report that it was their favourite stop.

Location:

Carmel, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Main Beach in Carmel by the Sea, California, USA
6

Big Sur - One of the premier drives in the world

The Golden Triangle is packed with great drives, and only time will tell which will be your favourite. Today, you’ll drive Big Sur, which many believe to be the best drive on the planet. Big Sur is 100 miles of dramatic coastal road, which twists around curvy cliffs, passing by scenic State Parks and spectacular vista pull-ins. The last 135 miles pass through vast farms and pretty mid-coast vineyards before returning to the Pacific Coast. Get an early start, and you’ll have plenty of time to explore. Do you want to shorten this drive to allow for a slower pace? No problem, please ask for an additional stop between Carmel and Santa Barbara.

Location:

Santa Barbara, CA

Drive:

235 miles

Pacific Coast Highway, Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, Highway 1, California
7

The first of two full days in Los Angeles

Before leaving upmarket Santa Barbara, spend the morning enjoying its Mediterranean style and attractions. After a short drive, you’ll reach Los Angeles. Synonymous with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, this town also contains funky beach towns like Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Spend the afternoon and evening by the Ocean, hire a bike in Santa Monica and cruise along the boardwalk to neighbouring Venice Beach and back. Watch the sunset while grabbing dinner on Santa Monica Pier before shopping till late on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.

Location:

Los Angeles, CA

Drive:

85 miles

Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles, California, USA
8

Beverly Hills and Hollywood await today

Head up the legendary Sunset Blvd to Beverly Hills, where you can shop with the Stars on Rodeo Drive and marvel at the area’s mansions. Further along Sunset Blvd lies Hollywood – stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or hike up to the iconic Hollywood sign. Universal and Disney have world-famous theme parks in the city dedicated to the entertainment industry. For a more authentic behind-the-scenes experience, both Warner Bros and Paramount offer guided tours of their lots.

Location:

Los Angeles, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Rodeo Drive Sign in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, California, USA
9

Time for the desert landscapes of The Golden Triangle

One can get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in around 4 hours. You can also opt to swing by Palm Springs for brunch before cruising through the scenery of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert on your way to the bright lights of Las Vegas. After checking in to your glamorous Las Vegas hotel, get dressed up and hit the town’s tables, bars and restaurants – time to paint the town red.

Location:

Las Vegas, NV

Drive:

270 miles

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
10

A second day of luxury and fun in Las Vegas

If your head hurts after the night before, then relax by the pool or enjoy the hotel’s spa. If you’re ready for more action, check out your Road Trip Pack for a list of city attractions. In the evening, stretch your legs with a walk along the legendary ‘Strip’, book tickets to one of the incredible shows or take in some retail therapy. Before leaving Las Vegas, consider visiting one of the city’s legendary hotel buffets. Just be sure you’re hungry when you go; the vast range and high food quality will astound you. Want a third day in LA or Las Vegas? No problem, just let us know.

Location:

Las Vegas, NV

Drive:

0 miles

Las Vegas strip, Las Vegas and The Canyons, California coast and Vegas
11

Leave Las Vegas for the beauty of Death Valley NP

Death Valley has an extreme climate and geology, so start early or late to avoid the mid-day heat. This National Park’s roads are superb, dipping and leaning around curves before straightening out as you dip down to 85m below sea level in the salt flats of Badwater. You’ll then climb to finish your drive by the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada. It’s one of the longer drives on this Golden Triangle tour, but it’s a drive you’ll never forget as the landscape is so very different from back home.

Location:

Death Valley NP

Drive:

220 miles

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DEATH VALLEY, CA
12

Highway 395 - another candidate for America's best drive

California has two famously scenic roads. You’ve already experienced Highway 1, and today you’ll cruise north up the second – Highway 395. The 395 has vast desert to the east and massive snow-capped mountains to the west. Once you reach the weird and wonderful Mono Lake, you can head west over the Tioga Pass (June-October) and into the majestic Yosemite National Park.

Location:

Yosemite NP

Drive:

195 miles

Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, California, USA, top 5 best national parks in california
13

Arguably the USA's best National Park - Hello Yosemite!

Yosemite National Park is nature at its absolute best. The most popular area of this epic National Park is the main “Valley” area with its gigantic rock faces, crystal clear waters and staggering vista points. Be sure to leave enough time to marvel at the giant redwood trees in Mariposa Grove to the south and then drive up to Glacier Point for sunset – possibly the best view of the entire road trip.

Location:

Yosemite NP

Drive:

0 miles

Yosemite National Park, California, Best of The West USA
14

The last leg of The Golden Triangle

Leave Yosemite for the pretty Napa Valley Wine Region, which lies 4 hours to the west. As always, your Road Trip Pack will describe all the available route options. One route option to consider is to head north to California’s former gold-mining towns before turning west through vast fruit orchids and onto the beautifully manicured vineyards of the Napa Valley. Spend the rest of the day sampling local products and relaxing; tomorrow you’ll drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to complete our epic Golden Triangle adventure.

Location:

Napa Valley, CA

Drive:

190 miles

Vineyards in Napa Valley, California wine region, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions

You’ll find answers to most of your questions right here. If you still need assistance, Feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be sure to get back to you promptly!

Can I Add Extra Nights To The Road Trips?

Not a problem. If you are lucky enough to have extra time to explore more places or add more rest days, then just let us know and we’ll adjust your trip to match your preferred timescale.

Must I Have Travel Insurance?

We strongly advise that you purchase travel insurance for your holiday to cover you against medical expenses, theft and other financial costs. Should you need to cancel before travelling, some insurance policies may pay out for any loss of funds that have been paid to us and which cannot be refunded under our cancellation policy.

Can I Do A One-Way Rental?

Many of our trips have a different end destination than the starting point, so this is not a problem. Please note a fee sometimes applies for one-way rentals between other regions or states, which will be paid to the supplier directly when collecting the vehicle. We’ll endeavour to inform you of this charge within your quote.

Am I Limited To Certain Hotels Or Chains?

No, far from it. We work with a range of properties from 3* to 5*, so we can adapt the trip to match most budgets. We have access to rooms in more than 800 hotels, motels, lodges and B&Bs across North America.

How Old Do I Need To Be?

The minimum age to rent a car is 21 in the United States or Canada, although, in addition, any drivers under 25 years of age will generally incur a surcharge.

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Our Trusted Partners And Providers

ARTCo customers can be confident that we only work with the very best service providers, such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Alamo. Any payments made to us are fully protected via the government’s ATOL scheme (Flight packages) or Financial Failure Insurance (Non-Flight Packages).

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