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California, here we come!San Francisco presents... thrilling hills, amazing views, cable cars, a cruise on the bay, a walk across a world-famous orange bridge high above the Pacific Ocean - and street performers, sourdough bread and sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf. Yosemite shows off... roaring waterfalls, immense rocky cliffs, a moonlit train ride and a hike by flashlight through the nighttime woods. And Monterey portrays... seaside magic, seals, otters, tide pools, beaches, biking, kayaking and an unbelievable underwater world.
Day 1: Arrive San Francisco, the "City by the Bay"
Tour begins: 5:30 PM at JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square. A transfer from San Francisco International Airport to JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square is included. Your family will enjoy exploring a little of San Francisco from your hotel's fabulous location conveniently located near Union Square, Chinatown and The Financial District. Join us at 5:30 for our welcome reception and dinner.
Day 2: A bay cruise, city sights & a Golden Gate walk
Get a great day of San Francisco exploration started with a private catamaran cruise of San Francisco Bay that takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and passes Alcatraz Island, the site of the first lighthouse and U.S. fort on the West Coast - and later an infamous federal prison that held some of the most notorious and dangerous criminals of the time. Back on land, enjoy a guided visit to the Sourdough Bread Museum, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, keep expanding your horizons on a drive that takes you through some of the city's diverse neighborhoods, tucked into hilly streets and steeped with history; view Nob Hill, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Victorian homes, the Marina District, Coit Tower and Lombard Street, "the crookedest street in the world," then take a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge - all world-famous symbols of San Francisco. The rest of your family's day and evening are free.
Meals: B, L
Day 3: Future energy, past history & and flashlight hike in Sierra National Forest
As the song says, "run and catch the wind" - and that's just what's been happening at the Altamont Wind Farm, one of the earliest wind farms in the United States, which you'll see en route from San Francisco toward the Sierra Nevada. You can take some great pictures of the kind of giant windmills - technically, wind turbines - that may look like "alien visitors," but will produce more and more of our electricity as the future unfolds. Continue on to Jamestown for lunch in a historic 1859 hotel. Later, arrive at your mountain resort just outside Yosemite National Park, where dinner is at your leisure this evening. Tonight, see what really goes on the woods at night during an interpretive hike lit by flashlights - and perhaps by starlight or moonlight, too - in the Sierra National Forest.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Glacier Point in Yosemite and a ride on a moonlight dinner train
Your day in Yosemite National Park begins with a privately guided visit to Glacier Point. Towering 3,200 feet above the valley floor, this impressive scenic overlook offers commanding panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite's high country and - in the distance - the stunning High Sierra. Return to Tenaya Lodge for lunch and time spent as you please - including, if you wish, putting your rock-wall climbing* skills to the test on the rock-climbing wall, or trying your hand at archery. Join us this evening to try your luck panning for gold, just like the old prospectors - then get set for a rip-roaring evening on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad Moonlight Special. Chow down at a great barbecue dinner while the Sugar Pine Singers entertain you with old-fashioned melodies. Then, it's ALL ABOARD The Logger for a narrow-gauge rail excursion powered by a vintage Shay steam locomotive through Sierra National Forest... back in time to the days when lumberjacks ruled the woods. Gather round the campfire for a sing-along during a stopover in the canyon, and hear that lonesome whistle blow as you chug home in the moonlight!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 5: Explore Yosemite National Park by tram & as you please
You'll learn about Yosemite National Park's history, geology, plant and animal life, and must-see attractions from park rangers during a two-hour open-air tram tour along the Yosemite Valley floor. See waterfalls with names like Bridalveil, Horsetail and Ribbon Falls; spectacular rock formations; nearly vertical granite cliffs; quiet pools and open meadows. Then spend the rest of the day with your family exploring this amazing place... or return to your lodge to go swimming, fishing or hiking, enjoy a ranger program, rent a mountain bike or anything else you choose. Dinner is at your leisure tonight.
Meals: B, D
Day 6: From the mountains to the Pacific & Monterey
En route from Yosemite to the coast of the blue Pacific, stop in historic Mariposa - a town settled by families who came in search of grazing and farmland after prospectors in California's Gold Rush of the 1850s began abandoning hopes of striking it rich. Visit the Mariposa Museum & History Center, whose exhibits tell the stories of indigenous Miwuk Indians, Chinese immigrants who came to California seeking a better way of life and the oldest county courthouse west of the Rockies. Continue your California travel through the San Joaquin Valley, part of a region dubbed the "salad bowl to the world." At least 25% of America's agricultural products come from California, many of them from this area; you may see vineyards, nuts, citrus fruits and vegetables basking in the sun as you drive along. After lunch, traverse the Coast Mountains to California's Pacific coast, winding your way along the Monterey Peninsula via the 17-Mile Drive to the renowned Pebble Beach golf course. Your family will spend the next two nights in seaside Monterey at InterContinental The Clement Monterey, ideally situated in historic Cannery Row next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Monterey Bay.
Meals: B, L
Day 7: Seaside adventures & Monterey Bay Aquarium
This morning, your family can choose between three fun things to do in Monterey - a bicycle tour* along the coast, a kayak adventure* in Monterey Bay or a self-guided walking tour of old Monterey, once the capital of California. Did you know that an octopus tastes with its tentacles - or that corals and jellyfish are cousins? That's just part of what you may learn at a late-afternoon behind-the-scenes visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located on the former site of a sardine cannery and one of the world's largest aquariums. Its 200 galleries and exhibits introduce you to an amazing underwater world, including giant octupuses, jellyfish, large green sea turtles, barracuda, sharks and coral reefs, as well as natural displays that showcase playful otters and endearing black-footed penguins. Your visit ends with a special, private farewell reception and dinner right at the Aquarium in seaside Monterey.
Meals: B, D
Day 8: Journey home
Tour ends: San Francisco. Your family can fly home anytime after 12:00 noon; one group transfer is included from InterContinental The Clement Monterey to San Francisco International Airport, for flights departing after 12:00 noon. Please allow two hours for flight check-in. Ask at booking about additional nights in San Francisco.
Catamaran cruise on San Francisco Bay; fun in Yosemite and Sierra National Forest with tram rides, gold panning, hiking & climbing; special behind the scenes tour at Monterey Bay Aquarium
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