Arrival in Los Angeles
Fly to Los Angeles Airport and pick up your hire car to drive to Santa Monica for a four night stay. Alternatively, as Santa Monica is such a walkable city, you may want to take a cab from the airport and then pick your hire car up on Day 5.
Days 2 to 4
Kick off your Californian holiday with three days in this classic California beach destination - we think Santa Monica is the perfect place to start. You’ll probably want to spend your first day relaxing on the beach and gazing at the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. When you’ve regained your energy then you can enjoy a long meandering walk along the promenade and into the Downtown Santa Monica neighbourhood which will lead you to several great shopping areas such as Santa Monica Place, Main Street and Montana Avenue. Another stroll could take you to Pallisades Park, on the bluffs between Ocean Avenue and the beach and giving great views of the mountains and ocean. You’ll certainly enjoy a walk along Santa Monica Pier to enjoy the fairground vibe – take a ride on the Ferris wheel in the daytime to admire the great views of the coastline and in the evening to delight in the thousands of sparkling lights. Santa Monica is a haven for foodies with fantastic fresh Californian fayre, great seafood and innovative fusion cuisine rubbing shoulders with all-American favourites. No stay in Santa Monica would be complete without a cocktail or two at one of the cool rooftop bars – there’s lots to choose from so you pick your favourite!
Santa Monica – Palm Springs (120 miles)
It’s time to head inland to the desert oasis of Palm Springs. You could take a detour and call in at Universal Studios Hollywood for a fun few hours. When you arrive in Palm Springs, check into your hotel for a three night stay. Hollywood’s love affair with Palm Springs lasted through the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the most revered architects and designers of the time creating an extraordinary style of buildings known as Desert Modernism, giving Palm Springs a retro glamorous vibe.
Days 6 to 7
The golf in and around Palm Springs is some of the best in the world, so you need to schedule in a few rounds if that’s your passion. If you like to hike, then we would recommend the Coachella Valley Preserve where there are several well-marked trails of differing difficulty, or the Indian Canyons to see waterfalls, rock formations and amazing desert plants. For those looking for a culture fix then spend an afternoon at the Palm Springs Art Museum – an amazing complex displaying up & coming artists plus masters such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Marc Chagall and Andy Warhol. We really love the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which will transport you from the desert floor up to the San Jacinto Mountains in ten minutes, where you can admire the views from observation decks or stroll along the trails.
Palm Springs - San Diego (140 miles)
Today you’ll drive to San Diego – you could take the popular coastal route but we suggest you drive the more direct mountain route inland so you can visit Temecula – a quaint western-style town with wooden boardwalks and rustic stores. Arrive at the self-styled “America’s Finest City”- also known as the birthplace of California - San Diego. We’ve scheduled for you to have three nights stay here, but the beaches are glorious and there’s so much to do, that you might want to add another night or two.
Days 9 to 10
You can simply relax on the beach in San Diego, indulge in people-watching whilst you’re soaking up the rays. Or you can try out one of the many activities in the area such as zipping around on a Segway Tour or hire some bikes. A brunch cruise around the bay is a lovely way to see the sights, or you can visit the fascinating USS Midway. San Diego is famous for its zoo, but you might prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, so book a whale watching cruise, and you might also spot dolphins and sea lions. The craft beer experience is massive in this region, with more than 150 breweries, countless beer bars, innovative tasting rooms and a beer culture that's undeniably San Diegan. Whilst in San Diego, be sure to try the fantastic local fish tacos or head to Balboa Park, which is one of the largest urban cultural parks in the country full of architectural and botanical treasures, it’s also a place with hidden treasures and wonderful stories.