North Coast, Wine Country & Gold Country Expedition
Get the best of all worlds on this 11-day North Coast, Wine and Gold Country Expedition to exotic California. After getting to know irresistible San Francisco, you’ll follow the fabled Pacific Coast Highway north as you venture ever deeper into Giant Redwood country. Then, get your tastebuds working with sommelier-led tours of the finest estates in serious Sonoma County anid glamorous Napa Valley. Next, you’ll experience California’s motherlode with a five-day exploration of the saloons, jailhouses and mills that still dot the charming mountain towns which date back to the 1849 Gold Rush. Top it all off with a night at majestic Lake Tahoe.
Starting from $4,490 per person
Pricing includes everything from your international arrival to your departure, with the exception of flights and a few lunches and dinners.
HOW IT WORKS
- Explore San Francisco in the company of a local expert, eating and drinking in under-the-radar spots and walking the streets of Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Marina.
- Experience the best of the San Francisco Bay by first cycling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and then returning to the city on a once-in-a-lifetime sunset cruise.
- Enjoy the freedom that comes with having your own rental car and the benefits of being shown arround each destination by a local expert (we call them ‘docents’) who knows the place inside out.
- Get up close and personal with California’s Giant Redwoods, the tallest trees on the planet and the world’s only temperate rainforest. Be awed by these primordial giants at Muir Woods, Mendocino and Big Hendy Grove.
- Soar over wine country in style on a hot air balloon ride, drinking in the beauty of the region before imbibing the best local libations available.
- Indulge in unforgettable farm-to-fork dining at River’s End B&B, aboard the elegant Napa Valley Wine Train, and with a gourmet chef-prepared picnic on the bluffs of Mendocino.
- Drink in everything the wine country has to offer, with sommelier led tours of understated Sonoma and trendy Napa. Boasting an incredible array of wineries and dining experiences, our advice is to simply follow your nose.
- Explore delightful Sonora, an important Gold Rush way station boasting period architecture, historic salooons and charming Victorian-era B&Bs.
- Enjoy a full-day exploration of Highway 49 en route to Nevada City, taking in a personalized wine tasting in up-and-coming Placerville on the way.
- Spend a full day discovering quirky Nevada City’s gold rush past and bohemian present (great beer!) in the fascinating company of our local docent.
- Take a detour to tiny Downieville (population 250) where a local guide will give you the inside scoop on the town’s Gold Rush past.
- Using the Yuba River as your guide, venture high into the mountains of rural California as you make your way towards spectacular Lake Tahoe.
Welcome to California! Today is a transit day. After your plane glides in over the waters of the San Francisco Bay, you will take a shuttle to claim your rental car before driving into the City by the Bay. Take the afternoon to explore or relax in your iconic SF Hotel. After a delicious dinner, rest up for the adventure to come or hit the town to experience some of San Francisco’s famous nightlife.
Today you will enjoy a guided exploration of evocative San Francisco. Begin with a tour of the city’s iconic neighborhoods: Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Marina. After lunch, walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to the upscale port town of Sausalito before returning to the city on an unforgettable sunset cruise across the Bay.
Today you’ll embark upon your exploration of the famous Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we recommend pausing for a photo at the Marin Headlands which enjoy timeless views across the bridge of the San Francisco Bay. Next, check out the Muir Woods for your first glimpse of California’s famous Giant Redwood trees. Continuing up the coast arrive to Hog Island Oyster Company for a fresh seafood lunch. Enjoy an optional tour of the farm or continue to explore the charming town of Jenner by the Sea. Top it all off with a world-class dining experience at the famous River’s End – your beautiful coastal B&B with views of both the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean.
After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely drive along the secluded coastal highway north of Bodega Bay, surrounded on all sides by the redwoods of Mendocino. Upon arrival at Mendocino’s windswept, ocean-facing bluffs, you’ll meet with a local guide and chef who will treat you to an organic picnic meal on the sea cliffs. Next you'll embark upon a short walking tour through town, featuring the area's local history ranging from lumberjacks and fishermen through to 60's counterculture and modern-day artisans. For the remainder of the afternoon and evening, take a relaxing walk along the coast, or enjoy a spa treatment in your beautiful seaside hotel.
Today you’ll bid the Pacific coast farewell, passing through the redwoods along rural Highway 128. We suggest a stop at Big Hendy Grove, an accessible and little-visited old-growth redwood grove just off the highway. Continue to Sonoma County, home to many of California’s famous wineries and craft breweries. Enjoy a private tour at any of our boutique family wineries or local craft breweries before retiring to one of Sonoma County’s intimate locally run bed and breakfasts.
Today begins with a dreamy sunrise ride in a hot air balloon, watching the mists rise over the rows of vines. After touchdown, your local sommelier docent will take you on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Napa Valley’s world-famous wineries. Begin with a ride aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train (complete with a gourmet lunch) before enjoying private tastings at whichever boutique wineries take your fancy. Private vehicles with drivers are available to allow you to fully enjoy the best of California wine worry-free. End the day at a boutique bed and breakfast for a farm-to-fork dining experience that highlights the best flavors of wine country.
Welcome to California’s motherlode. The small town of Sonora harkens back to a Gold Rush past where 49ers flocked into the Sierra Foothills of California in search of gold. By 1849, mining camps had sprung up across the region which was soon integrated as a state in 1851. The important way station of Sonora retains its Gold Rush history and also boasts charming Victorian-era B&Bs and excellent restaurants.
Departing Sonora in the morning, you will travel along Highway 49, the gold country corridor that follows the route of the 49ers who came here in 1849 in search of Gold. En route you’ll experience the burgeoning wine region of California’s Sierra Foothills before arriving to the small gold mining town of Nevada City. In the evening you are free to explore the quaint town’s many boutique shops and excellent dining options.
Nevada City (population 3000), is the county seat of Nevada County. It has evolved from its gold mining roots to become a bohemian playground of artists, craft brewers and urban refugees from California’s expensive cities. Its charm is unmistakable and your guide for the day will take through the town’s history right up to the modern day. The evening will be spent enjoying the best entertainment and food this little town has to offer.
Just north of Nevada City you’ll enjoy one of the most remote stretches of Highway 49, meandering alongside the Yuba River through a gorgeous natural corridor, you’ll walk in the footsteps of the gold mining pioneers who built these mountain roads to reach their claims. By lunch you will arrive to the town of Downieville, (population 250) where your local guide will immerse you in the local culture. Leaving Downieville, you will continue along the Yuba River through a succession of small towns as you climb high into the mountains eventually arriving to North Lake Tahoe and your hotel for the night.
Lake Tahoe is one of the natural wonders of the Western United States. Enjoy a laid back morning on the lakeshore, go for one of the many day-hikes in the surrounding hills for a sweeping view of the deep blue Tahoe waters, or relax in your beautiful lakefront hotel before either returning to San Francisco or continuing your adventure down the Highway 395 corridor.
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