Day 1: Depart San Francisco - Santa Barbara
Take care not to leave your heart in San Francisco as you head to the nearby Bay city of Oakland to catch the famous Coast Starlight Amtrak service bound for Santa Barbara. Sit back and enjoy the ride as the train eats up the miles along the stunning Pacific coast; savour jaw-dropping views as the craggy cliffs and spray-strewn headlands of North California coast give way to golden beaches further south. Arrive in Santa Barbara and stay 2 nights at the Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn (or similar).
Day 2: Santa Barbara
Spend the day enjoying beautiful Santa Barbara, with its golden sand beaches, rolling surf and superb shopping. There's more than a hint of the Mediterranean about Santa Barbara - something to do with its charming white stucco buildings and the scent of orange blossom in the air. Enjoy lazing on the beach, exploring the 18th century Old Mission, or strolling amid lush botanical gardens. There's also plenty of top-class retail therapy to be had, and a great restaurant and bar scene once the sun goes down.
Day 3: Santa Barbara - Los Angeles
Step on board the Pacific Surfliner and head on down to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world. Drink in more superb Pacific Ocean views as the train hugs the coastline speeding south, then get your first taste of the City of Angels as you pull into glorious Art Deco Union Station. Spend 3 nights at The Garland (or similar).
Day 4 & 5: Los Angeles
It's glitter and glamour all the way in Los Angeles, where a trip to Hollywood is a must to grab a pic by the iconic hillside sign and spot celebs loading up with designer labels along Rodeo Drive. There's mile upon mile of beaches to enjoy too, from family-friendly Santa Monica to quirky Venice, while theme park thrills come in spades at Disneyworld and Universal Studios. The fun doesn't stop once night falls either, so make sure you don't miss the chance to cruise the clubs along Sunset Boulevard.
Day 6: Los Angeles - San Diego
Hop back onto the Pacific Surfliner for the next stage of your Californian adventure. Continue south down the coast towards the Mexican border, stopping just twenty miles short at 'America's finest city': San Diego. Step off the train and feel the city's reliably sunny weather offer you the warmest of welcomes. Stay 2 nights at the Bahia Resort Hotel (or similar).
Day 7: San Diego
And relax. San Diego has a laid-back pace and endless stretches of soft white sand, making it the perfect place to kick back and work up a tan. But there are plenty of other things to do too. At the famous zoo you can get up close and personal with all sorts of animals, while Balboa Park has no less than 15 museums and multiple other attractions. At night, the historic Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be, or wander the Old Town for a taste of San Diego's roots and great Mexican food.
Day 8: Depart San Diego
This is the end of the track, and your memorable trip down California's sun-splashed coast ends as you check out of your hotel. But that needn't be the whole story. Why not extend your stay and see more of what the stunning Golden State has to offer. (read more...)