California Highlights

Tour Length
8 days
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Overview Reviews
8 days
1 World Heritage Site visited.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ See reviews
Tour Map

You will visit: Nevada & California, including Las Vegas, Bass Lake, San Francisco, Carpinteria & Los Angeles

See what the Golden State of California has to offer! From the City by the Bay known as San Francisco to the beachside city of Santa Barbara to the entertainment capital of the world Los Angeles, get the full experience of California. And if you're still beggin' for more, be sure to check out the Western Highlights tour where you'll see one of the awe-inspiring natural world wonders (the Grand Canyon in Arizona) and indulge in your guilty pleasures in sin city Las Vegas.

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Top Offers & Tour Notes

Photo from California Highlights Photo from California Highlights Photo from California Highlights Photo from California Highlights Photo from California Highlights Photo from California Highlights

Itinerary + Backstage Pass & ME Time Optionals

ME Time Optionals

ME Time optionals will take your trip to a whole new level with unforgettable experiences unique to the places you visit. See more, do more, live more & go home completely regret-free. Costs for these aren’t included in your tour cost & are payable to your Tour Manager in local currency.

Backstage Pass

Your Backstage Pass gives you incredible exclusive experiences you’ll only get with Contiki. From food to accommodation to exclusive access to the best sights, your Backstage Pass gives you unbeatable value & a completely unique travel experience.

1 Arrive Las Vegas

This afternoon, meet up with your Contiki crew and Tour Manager in larger-than-life Las Vegas – a manmade entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Dubbed “Sin City”, it’s all about glitz, neon lights and excess.

See the bright lights of this city and its world famous casinos in a first taste of Vegas kitsch. Get a real feel for this outrageous town and keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings!

Explore the Strip and check out over-the-top versions of international icons, like the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals and gondolas, a Roman temple or the pyramid, whose nightlight can be seen from the moon. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers or go for a ride at one of the casino’s theme-parks. If you work up an appetite, tuck into an all you can eat buffet, and lunch American style.

For an “only in Vegas” experience, choose our optional Las Vegas show. Then get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Tour Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your travel buddies.

Hotel

  • Experience some of the world's largest hotels & casinos
  • Non-stop nightlife
  • Limo Ride
    USD $23.00
2 Las Vegas to Bass Lake

Today, it’s a total change of scene when leave behind flashy Vegas and the desert to arrive in the outdoor capital of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Make the most of picturesque Bass Lake and wind down in your chalet. With two nights at this lakefront resort, you can unpack your things, kickback on your chalet’s deck and soak up the views.

Chalet Dinner

  • See the famous Joshua Trees
3 Yosemite National Park

Get back to nature with a day in Yosemite National Park. This place has a reputation for a reason – it’s absolutely stunning. With a dramatic combination of waterfalls, woods, towering mountains and wildlife, Yosemite will take your breath away. Keep an eye out and a camera handy in case you’re lucky enough to see black bears, deer and coyotes.

Your Tour Manager will tell you all about Yosemite as you check out the massive El Capitan rock and the sheerest cliff in the USA, Half Dome. It’s guaranteed to impress. You’ll also see the breathtaking Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls.

Add to your time here and hike or bike along the park’s trails to experience this unique environment first hand and close up.

Tonight, if the weather is good, cook up a BBQ on your chalet’s deck and enjoy eating under the open night sky.

Chalet Breakfast, Dinner

  • Relax in the stunning mountain paradise of Bass Lake - swim, catch some rays & enjoy watersports (seasonal)
  • See Yosemite's famous rock formations, El Capitan & Half Dome
  • See incredible Yosemite & Bridalveil Falls
  • Hike around Yosemite Valley's Park trails (seasonal)
4 Bass Lake to San Francisco

Cruise on through the San Joaquin Valley to free-wheeling San Francisco, via Oakland. Colourful, cosmopolitan and creative, San Francisco is packed with characters, free-thinkers, and artists. You’ll see the signs of its recent history where it served as the hub of the gold rush, as well as the center for Beatnik and Hippy cultures.

After crossing over the Bay Bridge for a panorama of the area, get familiar with this buzzing city as your Tour Manager shows you around San Francisco’s key sights. We stop off at Fisherman’s Wharf for a slice of the historic waterfront lifestyle, where you can order some fresh fish or crab from sidewalk stands. Cross San Francisco’s landmark suspension bridge, the Golden Gate, and check out the city’s iconic row houses on Alamo Square.

This afternoon, take it down a notch & soak up the sunset on out included catamaran cruise around San Francisco Bay.

Hotel Breakfast

  • Cross the Oakland Bay & Golden Gate Bridges
  • See North Beach, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury & the city's iconic cable cars
  • Visit Fisherman's Wharf
  • Sit back, chill & enjoy the San Fran sunset on a catamaran cruise
5-6 San Francisco

With a couple of days here, get a real feel for San Francisco and its hilly streets. Chalk up a local experience by jumping on a cable car and exploring the city.

If you’ve booked ahead of time, catch a ferry out to Alcatraz, the former island jail that once held A-list criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone, Soviet spies and crime bosses. Walk around the old cells and get the background on these bad boys.

Thriving with activity, Chinatown is a fun, kitsch experience. Choose the optional trip there with your Tour Manager and see its hidden spots. Learn about the history of the gold rush as you walk through the bustling district, past traditional herb-sops, Buddhas, and flashing neon lights. Then eat together at one of its many authentic restaurants.

You could turn back the clock to the “Summer of Love” with a visit to cool Haight-Ashbury, the centre point of 1960s alternative culture. Once packed with 75000 hippies, it now has chilled-out cafes, record stores, second hand clothes shops and bookstores to rummage through.

With over 3000 places to eat and drink, San Francisco has more choice per capita than anywhere else. Head to the city’s gritty Latin American quarter, Mission District, for Mexican tacos or El Salvadorian pupusas (corn flat breads stuffed with cheese, pork or beans) or hit North Beach for some Italian.

Hotel Breakfast, Dinner, Dinner

  • California Academy of Sciences
    USD $25.00
7 San Francisco to Carpinteria via Santa Barbara

Today we leave San Francisco behind and continue traveling through California. This afternoon, we travel south along the central coast and through the pretty wine country of the region before arriving in Santa Barbara. Experience the Spanish flavor of Santa Barbara and see the pretty white stucco buildings and red tile roofs that give the town its distinctive feel. Hit the main drag of State Street, lined with palm trees and interesting coffee shops, bookstores, and diners. Well-known for its hot shopping, you can find anything from indie clothe boutiques to surfer chic, from locally-made accessories to big label brands. Golden beaches make Santa Barbara a great place to surf, swim or catch some sun. You can also rent bike or roller blades and look around town California style. Later, we arrive in Carpinteria for our overnight stop.

Hotel Dinner

  • Visit the famous Stearns Wharf, California's oldest working wharf
8 Carpinteria to Los Angeles

First up today is Santa Barbara. Experience the Spanish flavor of Santa Barbara and see the pretty white stucco buildings and red tile roofs that give the town its distinctive feel. Hit the main drag of State Street, lined with palm trees and interesting coffee shops, bookstores, and diners. Well-know for its hot shopping, you can find anything from indie clothe boutiques to surfer chic, from locally-made accessories to big label brands.

Golden beaches make Santa Barbara a great place to surf, swim or catch some sun. You can also rent bike or roller blades and look around town California style.

Wrap up your tour in the city that mixes up glamor, grit and the American Dream: Los Angeles. It’s packed with legends, full of energy and a bit rough around the edges.

We head to mythical Hollywood and onto holy ground for the stars. Check out the Kodak Theater, where the Oscars are held every year and the Chinese Theater, where so many greats have pressed their hands into the famous cement stars.

For a more in-depth look at movie star glamor and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, choose the optional movie stars’ home tour, where you’ll see over 40 mansions and learn about the celebrities who live in them.

For more history on Hollywood, choose our optional walking tour around the area. Our expert Local Guide will show you the old theaters of Hollywood Boulevard as the group walks down this legendary street. Follow the star-studded Walk of Fame, with its 2000 brass stars, and see the Egyptian Theater and El Capitan Theater.

Then it’s time to say farewell to your new friends, as your tour ends in downtown LA.

Breakfast

  • Relax at the beach
  • Visit the famous Stearns Wharf, California's oldest working wharf
  • Enjoy this vibrant beachside town
  • Walk Hollywood's "Walk of Fame"
  • See the famous Hollywood sign, Mann's Chinese Theatre & Hollywood's Walk of Fame
  • See the Dolby Theater which is home every year to the star-studded Oscar Awards
  • Bike and Roll San Francisco
    USD $42.00
  • Hollywood Walking Tour
    USD $18.00
  • Tour Stars Homes
    USD $42.00

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Backstage Pass

Our backstage pass includes all of this and more, and it's free as part of your trip.

Exclusive Accommodation

  • 7 nights accommodation: 5 nights in twin-share hotels & 2 nights Special Stay experience
  • 9 meals: 4 breakfasts & 5 dinners
  • An experienced & professional Tour Manager & Driver team
  • Modern, air-conditioned coach with powerpoints for charging
  • Sightseeing tours of all major cities
  • Local taxes & service charges

Exclusive Team

An experienced & professional Tour Manager & Driver team

Exclusive Inclusions

  • Experience some of the world's largest hotels & casinos
  • Non-stop nightlife
See More

Me Time

  • Limo Ride
  • California Academy of Sciences
See More

On a budget?

  • The average cost per day for this tour is US$176
  • You only need a US$200 deposit to book and pay in full 45 days before you travel.
  • Pay in installments, with Contiki Layaway

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