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​California Holidays and Breaks

The Golden State has it all: golden sun, golden sands and Gold Rush towns where the days of the Wild West seem just like yesterday. It also has natural beauty to take your breath away, with Yosemite, Death Valley, and the wild Pacific Coast all proof that Mother Nature was working overtime when she ran her hand over America's West Coast. Top that off with Hollywood glamour, theme parks and first-class wineries, and holidays to California are a no-brainer.

Starting with the coast and you can take your pick, from rugged, ocean-battered North California, through the surf mecca of Huntington Beach to kooky Venice - which is part beach, part carnival. There's spectacular variety here, and wildlife lovers can spot sea lions and whales, while sun worshippers will be content to stretch out on silky-soft sand under hot summer skies. Plus there's upmarket resorts like Newport Beach for fans of the high life, and Carmel for culture vultures.

Move inland and colossal coastal redwood trees give way to superb desert landscapes - including the vast Mojave Desert, which plays host to jaw-dropping State National Parks like Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Then there's glittering Lake Tahoe, with its watersports and skiing, not to mention the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains - and we haven't even got to Yosemite yet. This jewel of a National Park truly is a sight to behold, and everyone should experience the view from Glacier Point at least once in a lifetime.

Last but certainly not least come the big cities: Los Angeles, the place of dreams and legends, where the glitz of Hollywood is always in the air; hip San Francisco, with its switch-back streets and anything-goes attitude; and sunny San Diego, city of beaches and museums. Holidays to California simply have everything - and more.

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Select a California destination to explore

Everybody's Gone Surfing

Surfing in CaliforniaThe Endless Summer lives on in California, where plenty of beaches are fringed by fantastic Pacific breakers and you can learn the ropes from scratch at a local surf school.Huntington Beach is where it all began, and still wears its Surf City status with pride - although you can find great surfing all the way down the coast from Monterey to San Diego.

Make Time for Wine

There's some glorious wine to be sampled on holidays to California, with the potent mix of hot sun and cooling Pacific breezes making for perfect grape growing conditions. Head for the Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Monterey County, or the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas south of San Luis Obispo for wineries and tasting rooms set amid idyllic scenery.

Natural Wonders

A trip to marvel at the towering granite outcrops, plunging waterfalls, hidden canyons and giant sequoia trees of Yosemite National Park is an absolute must. Also try to fit in Death Valley, just so you can say you've been to one of the hottest places on the planet, as well as the driest and lowest-lying spot in North America. The superb desert landscapes aren't half bad either.

Shopping California Style

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try a farmers market. Looking for a handmade ceramic bowl? Check out one of the many artist enclaves dotting the state. Simply looking for a great bargain on shoes? There are 16 Simon Shopping Destinations in California and you can find anything from luxury & fashion-forward to value retail and some of the largest outlet centres in the country.

Hit the Parks

With four major theme parks all within spitting distance of LA, there's plenty to keep adrenaline addicts and Disney fans happy. Choose from Universal Studios' amazing movie-based experiences and studio tours; the monster coasters of Knott's Berry Farm and Magic Mountain; or the endearing character parades and magic-fairy dust-atmosphere of Disneyland.

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Our Top Hotels in California

Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Hilton San Francisco Union Square

4

With beautifully-appointed guestrooms, outstanding service and a prime San Francisco location, this San Francisco hotel provides the perfect setting for relaxing, leisure vacations.

Find out more about this hotel >>


Tuscan Inn at Fisherman's Wharf A Kimpton Hotel

Tuscan Inn at Fisherman's Wharf A Kimpton Hotel

3

This Italian-inspired boutique hotel is located in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf, steps away from San Francisco's famous Pier 39. This hotel ensures pleasant stays for each and every guest.

Find out more about this hotel >>


Loews Hollywood Hotel

Loews Hollywood Hotel

4.5

In the movie-making capital of the world, this hotel is a dazzling landmark, the hotel masterfully captures the legendary glamour and excitement of Hollywood’s illustrious past and alluring present.

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The Queen Mary Hotel

The Queen Mary Hotel

2.5

Once a luxurious transatlantic ocean liner, this charming hotel is rich in history and tradition. Enjoy the unique atmosphere and stately guestrooms at this exciting California hotel.

Find out more about this hotel >>


Hilton San Diego Resort

Hilton San Diego Resort

4.5

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa, situated on the beautiful sands of Mission Bay, is centrally located to all of San Diego’s top attractions and six miles from the San Diego International Airport.

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Handlery Hotel San Diego

Handlery Hotel San Diego

3

One of the top hotels in San Diego, the Handlery Hotel San Diego is the perfect choice for vacationing families, international travelers, and groups. A family-owned hotel offering personable service.

Find out more about this hotel >>


Anabella Hotel

Anabella Hotel

3.5

Just a short walk away from Disney’s California Adventure™ Park and Disneyland® Resort, this family-friendly, boutique hotel showcases California’s rich, Spanish Mission heritage.

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Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa

Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa

5

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa is a Palm Springs resort and hotel where the picturesque mountain views and secluded location create the perfect escape.

Find out more about this hotel >>


Even more hotels to discover in California...

3* Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara
4* River Terrace Inn Napa
 
 

Fly Drive Holiday: Coastal Wonders

San Diego - Laguna Beach - Newport Beach - Anaheim - Huntington Beach - Long Beach

Our suggested fly drive itinerary is perfect for those looking to soak up the sun and shorelines that only California can offer. Start your adventure in San Diego which offers an array of activities with theme parks, water-based activities and chic shopping to enjoy. Next up would be the beaches of Laguna and Newport which are home to awe-inspiring mansions as well as golf and cycling opportunities. Onwards to Anaheim where you can experience the popular theme parks including Disneyland before arriving in Huntington Beach, the perfect place to relax beach-side or even learn to surf. Finish your fly drive tour in Long Beach for a relaxing end to your unforgettable holiday.
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Fly Drive Holiday: Los Angeles and Santa Barbara

Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Los Angeles

Start this fantastic recommended fly drive in the ‘City of Angels,’ Los Angeles which offers glamour and glitz and fun in the sun. Make your way along the stunning coastline to Santa Barbara, to relax on one of the many gorgeous beaches before returning back to Los Angeles. On your return, see a different side to the city by exploring the more relaxed Venice and Malibu beaches.
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Fly Drive Holiday: Central Coast

San Francisco - Santa Cruz - Monterey/Carmel - San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles - Santa Barbara - Los Angeles

Our suggested fly drive itinerary showcases the rugged and dramatic coastline that California is famed for. Your holiday starts in San Francisco, where you should make time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and Union Square amongst other sights and attractions. Santa Cruz will be your next stop where you can explore the scenic coastline before heading to Monterey and Carmel, where you can savour some exquisite seafood dining. Continue south along the coast, driving along majestic Big Sur towards the quaint towns of San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, and the American Riviera that is Santa Barbara, before finishing your holiday in Los Angles, the perfect end to a perfect holiday.
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Fly Drive Holiday: Yosemite and the Mountains

San Francisco – Lake Tahoe – Yosemite/Mariposa County – Monterey – Santa Cruz

Our suggested fly drive itinerary is perfect for those who love the great outdoors and want to savour some truly remarkable scenery. Start your holiday in San Francisco and see the many sights it has to offer before heading on to Lake Tahoe where you can partake in a variety of watersports or adopt a more sedate approach and simply enjoy the stunning surroundings. Journey onwards to captivating Yosemite, home to a sublime collection of cascading waterfalls and striking mountain scenery. Your fly drive discovery culminates along California’s coast in the beachside towns of Monterey and Santa Cruz, the ideal place to relax and unwind before heading back home.
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Fly Drive Holiday: San Francisco and the Winelands

San Francisco - Sonoma County - Napa Valley

Our suggested self-drive itinerary is perfect for wine connoisseurs who want to visit the many wineries California has to offer in stunning surroundings. Start your holiday in San Francisco where there is so much to see and do to start your holiday from Alcatraz Island to the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Drive on to Sausalito which offers a peaceful ‘seaside town’ ambience with a sedate pace before reaching Sonoma County which offers a huge array of renowned wineries for you to sample. Napa Valley is your next step which again is perfect for wine lovers to indulge in their favourite past time. Finish your holiday in San Francisco before boarding your flight back to London.
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Fly Drive Holiday: The Wild Wild West

Los Angeles – San Diego – Tucson – Las Cruces – Santa Fe – Durango – Kayenta – Williams – Las Vegas – Los Angeles

Our recommended fly drive holiday will delve you deep into the Wild West roots of the USA, starting along the California Coast, before heading inland towards the desert landscapes of Arizona, where the spirit of the West still remains strong today. Visit the locations featured on many a John Wayne film; get a glimpse into the history of the Native American cultures; and be amazed by the staggering natural wonders that define the Western USA landscape. This fly drive holiday truly will take you on a journey of the Wild, Wild West!
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Time Difference:
GMT- 8hours

Closest Airport:
Los Angeles International Airport (approx. 11 hours), San Francisco International Airport (approx. 11 hours), San Diego International Airport (approx.. 11 hours).

Getting around:
With so many sights spread across a vast area, the best way to see California is by road. Car hire is available from £21 per day.

Insider Tip:
Whilst the urban delights of San Francisco, the thrills of Disneyland in Anaheim and the golden sands of Venice beach are all great destinations for a California holiday, there are plenty of places to get off the beaten track in the Golden State. Adventurous visitors will be rewarded with boutique resort towns like Santa Barbara, wild and stunning coastline, spectacular redwood forests and desert oases like Palm Springs. 

You’re going to need an ESTA:
For anyone travelling to the USA, the US authorities have imposed a requirement for passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), to register for Electronic Travel Authority. Just fill in the online application form which you can find at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. You will need to apply for entry via ESTA at least a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel.

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