Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, USA

Northern California

Visit San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, Lake Tahoe & Napa Valley.

Northern California has more must-see places than most countries offer

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

This diverse road trip around Northern California is short in mileage, but it’s packed with awe-inspiring natural beauty at every turn. Begin your Northern California road trip with at least three days enjoying the sights and culture of hip San Francisco, and then hit the road to experience the stunning scenery of Northern California’s coastline, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Wine Region.

Key road trip highlights:

  • Three nights in fabulous San Francisco.
  • Visit three of America’s very best National Parks – Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite await.
  • Witness more natural beauty in places like Big Sur, Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley.
  • Go whale watching in world famous Monterey Bay.
  • Perfect combination of coastal and mountain views.
  • 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.
Northern California 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.

Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park

Hotel:

Wuksachi Lodge

Location:

Sequoia National Park

The Coachman Hotel, South Lake Tahoe

Hotel:

The Coachman Hotel

Location:

South Lake Tahoe

Hotel E, 3 star hotel in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley, California

Hotel:

Hotel E

Location:

Santa Rosa

Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite National Park, California

Hotel:

Tenaya Lodge

Location:

Yosemite National Park

La Playa Hotel, Carmel

Hotel:

La Playa

Location:

Carmel

Carneros Resort and Spa, Napa Valley

Hotel:

Carneros Resort and Spa

Location:

Napa Valley

The Ahwahnee, Yosemite

Hotel:

The Ahwahnee

Location:

Yosemite National Park

Argonaut Hotel, San Francisco

Hotel:

Argonaut Hotel

Location:

San Francisco

Road Trip Itinerary

All of our road trips can be tailored to meet your exact 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

Fly directly to San Francisco, and after you’ve settled into your first hotel, why not step out onto the streets of San Francisco and enjoy a meal at one of the city’s excellent restaurants.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California West Coast, USA
2

So much to see and do in San Francisco

After the famous San Francisco fog has lifted, one of America’s favourite cities will be revealed. Ride a cable car, climb the steep streets and get into the vibe that only this city can offer. Full of Victorian charm, famous movie locations and wealthy tech companies, San Francisco has it all.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, USA
3

A third day to enjoy San Francisco

Alcatraz, Lombard Street, Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown are just some of the incredible must-see destinations available to you today. Your personalised Road Trip Pack will help you prioritise all of San Francisco’s visitor attractions whilst giving you all the information you’ll require to enjoy them.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California, USA
4

Take Highway 1 to Monterey Bay

Collect your rental car, and cruise south to Monterey Bay. Once California’s capital and a major whaling town, today, Monterey is best known for the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium that presides on Cannery Row, which focuses instead on marine education and preservation. Want to experience the waters of Monterey Bay first-hand? Then take a whale watching trip; there is no better place to enjoy this life-changing experience.

Location:

Monterey, CA

Drive:

120 miles

Humpback Whale in Monterey Bay, California, USA
5

Charming Carmel-By-The-Sea

Connecting Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea is the 17-Mile Drive; this scenic toll road takes you on a little tour past rugged beaches, millionaire homes and wind-blown cypress trees. Seals bask in the sun on offshore rocks and sea otters bob up and down in the waves. At the other end of this short drive is lovely Carmel-by-the-Sea, with its world-class beaches, charming homes and classy restaurants.

Location:

Monterey, CA

Drive:

0 miles

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

Big Sur - USA's most famous coastal drive

The classic All-American drive down California’s Highway 1 becomes even more dramatic when it passes through the 90 miles of coastal road that is the Big Sur. Twisting roads curve around the cliff faces, occasionally passing gorgeous State Parks and spectacular vista lay-bys that look out over the vast Pacific Ocean. At the end of Big Sur lies Hearst Castle, this mansion is perched on “The Enchanted Hill” and overlooks the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Location:

Big Sur, CA

Drive:

94 miles

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

Visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park's

Sequoia National Park and the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park are located in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Whilst in Sequoia National Park, be sure to drive through Tunnel Tree and give “General Sherman” a hug from us. General Sherman is the world’s largest tree, affectionately named after the American Civil War leader from 1879; it stands at 84m tall, and it’s believed to be around 2500 years old.

Location:

Sequoia NP

Drive:

188 miles

Sequoia National Park, California. Top 5 Best National Parks in California.
8

A second day in Sequoia & Kings Canyon

The colossal redwood trees live in harmony between deep canyons and massive mountains, making this area of Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park a land of giants. Spend the morning hiking through the Redwoods and then cruise along CA-180 to explore neighbouring Kings Canyon National Park, home to bears and mountain lions.

Location:

Kings Canyon NP

Drive:

0 miles

Sequoia National Park
9

The grandeur of Yosemite National Park awaits

Continue north to majestic Yosemite, entering the National Park from the South gate where the Mariposa Grove of redwood trees can be found. Continue north until you reach two of the best vista points you’ll ever witness; the views from both Glacier Point and Tunnel View will never leave you.

Location:

Yosemite NP

Drive:

170 miles

Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, California, USA, top 5 best national parks in california
10

A second day in glorious Yosemite NP

Yosemite National Park is over 1,000 square kilometres of nature at its most sublime. The most popular area of this National Park is the Valley area, where you’ll find vast rock faces, abundant wildlife, staggering views and spectacular waterfalls. Whilst Hetch Hetchy and the Tioga Pass are two lesser-visited areas to consider if you want to avoid any crowds.

Location:

Yosemite NP

Drive:

0 miles

Yosemite National Park, California, Best of The West USA
11

Onto the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe

Split in half by the California/Nevada state line and entirely surrounded by alpine mountains, Lake Tahoe is a wonder to behold. During the winter months, classy ski resorts can be enjoyed all around whilst casinos welcome you to the Nevada portions of the shoreline. In the summer, you can kayak on the crystal clear waters or relax on one of the many beaches.

Location:

Lake Tahoe, CA

Drive:

179 miles

Lake Tahoe, California
12

Discover Lake Tahoe's shoreline

We suggest you experience some or all of the super scenic 71-mile shoreline drive which surrounds Lake Tahoe. One essential spot is Emerald Bay; it’s easy to see why Mark Twain called Lake Tahoe the ” fairest picture the whole world affords”.

Location:

Lake Tahoe, CA

Drive:

0 miles

Emerald Bay after sunset, South Lake Tahoe, California, USA
13

Mountain peaks to farmland & vineyards

You don’t have to like wine to enjoy the pretty Napa and Sonoma Valley area. These two neighbouring valleys offer gorgeous scenery made up of perfectly manicured vineyards stretched across endless rolling hills. Explore by car, bicycle, or even a hot air balloon or steam train.

Location:

Napa Valley, CA

Drive:

165 miles

Vineyards in the wine region Napa Valley, California, USA
14

Enjoy your final day in Napa Valley

Napa and Sonoma Valleys also offer food heaven, with establishments like Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and the cheaper Gott’s Roadside burger joint. Additionally, you can take a drive along one of our favourite roads in California. The Silverado Trail parallels the St. Helena Highway, passing through particularly scenic wine country. The hotels in this area are also great places to relax if you just want to rest up before your flight home the following day.

Location:

Napa Valley, CA

Drive:

0 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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Not quite what you’re looking for? Get in touch to discuss your Bespoke Road Trip plans, or check out these similar road trip itineraries…

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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