Fly into San Francisco
Welcome to the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, iconic cable cars with their imposing hills and Fisherman’s Wharf! Instead of picking up your rental car we advise taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train from the airport straight into the heart of the city for just $10 and just over 30 minutes. San Francisco is an easily walkable city with fantastic transport links throughout.
Check into your hotel, we recommend staying in either Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf – both are great locations with many shops, restaurants and abundance of hotels to choose from.
Experience San Francisco's bike-friendly paths and waterfront leading to the Golden Gate Bridge with an all-day bike rental and ferry ticket. How about crossing to Sausalito for bay views and dining, then relax in Golden Gate Park, home to museums, a Ferris wheel, and the diverse San Francisco Botanical Garden, perfect for a picnic.
Indulge in shopping or a historic cable car ride from Union Square to Nob Hill, leading to Russian Hill's scenic Coolbrith Park with views of the Financial District. Visit Lombard Street, capturing its famous curves and stunning bay views. Walk to Fisherman's Wharf, home to seafood, sea lions, and attractions like PIER 39, and ferries to Alcatraz. Stroll west to Ghirardelli Square, and onwards to Marina Green and Crissy Field for sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito across the bay. Carry on west to explore the Palace of Fine Arts with its beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere.
San Francisco – Monterey (120 miles)
Pick up your rental car this morning and embark on a scenic drive from San Francisco to Monterey, passing Pacifica and Half Moon Bay's beaches and art scene. Journey through Santa Cruz, featuring the famed Beach Boardwalk, then through the Santa Cruz Mountains and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Arrive in Monterey, where a stroll along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail reveals stunning sand dunes, marine life, and the transformed Cannery Row, now lined with eateries, shops, and galleries.
Discover the bohemian charm of Carmel-by-the-Sea, famed for its top shopping scene. Explore Ocean Avenue's boutiques and visit nearby Point Lobos State Natural Reserve for coastal hikes and wildlife spotting. Experience the breathtaking Sea Lion Point trail and consider the Cypress Grove trail. Later, perhaps enjoy a whale watching tour from Monterey Fisherman's Wharf, witnessing the seasonal migrations of these magnificent creatures.
Consider a drive to Big Sur via the scenic 17-Mile Drive, passing the iconic Lone Cypress. Take a detour to Pacific Grove for its Victorian charm and the historic Point Pinos Lighthouse. Traverse Garrapata State Park, featuring dramatic cliffs and Bixby Creek Bridge's awe-inspiring panoramas. Admire McWay Falls and Ragged Point's stunning vistas before reaching Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for a redwood adventure and picnic.
Monterey – Sonoma (160 miles)
Today, depart Monterey for the Salinas Valley, famed for its vineyards and farms. Discover wineries in Soledad and Greenfield, known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Continue through Salinas and Gilroy, celebrated for garlic cultivation, then transition to suburban life in the Santa Clara Valley. En route, explore Petaluma's blend of country charm and trendy shops, offering a unique culinary experience. Finally, arrive in Sonoma to savour its historic plaza, wineries, and culinary delights.
Take a scenic drive on Highway 12 from Sonoma to Santa Rosa, immersing yourself in the picturesque vineyards of Sonoma Valley. Delight in Sonoma's culinary scene, vineyards, and historic sites, centered around the vibrant town of Sonoma. Savour renowned Chardonnays and other varietals before exploring Sonoma Plaza, an expansive hub for community events and local businesses, offering charming cafes, boutiques, and farm-to-table eateries.
Explore Sonoma County's burgeoning artisan beverage scene, encompassing craft breweries, cider works, and distilleries. Immerse yourself in the traditions and craftsmanship of these boutique industries. Discover the stunning California Coast, adorned with charming sea villages like Bodega, Bodega Bay, and Jenner in Sonoma County. Enjoy a waterfront breakfast before embarking on a coastal journey, perhaps catching a glimpse of migrating whales from the scenic Bodega Head overlook.
Sonoma to San Francisco airport (65 miles)
Today, relish the splendour of California's wine country as you head south. Embrace the transition from the scenic vineyards to the vibrant cityscape of San Francisco, culminating in the return of your rental car at San Francisco Airport.