What you need to know!
This was a fascinating tour!! We had 3 more days in town, so we started with it in order to get the lay of the land. Our guide, Kevin, was so incredibly knowledgeable & was a perfect fit for what we wanted to accomplish. We traveled to & learned about places that we never would have thought of to check out. I can’t say enough about this great city & tour guide. It completely exceeded our expectations!!!
This tour was great! I wish we did it on our first day in SF instead of our last day, because our tour guide, Kevin, gave us so many suggestions for dinners & things to check out. I loved how we were able to take all the different forms of transit and see so many different things that you wouldn’t normally, if you were exploring on your own.
THE REAL DEAL
Our tour with Kevin was GREAT! He is a fabulous tour guide & shared all sorts of fun facts & hidden SF favorites. He didn’t rush us, but made sure the tour ran smoothly. His personality was extremely engaging & made the group feel like old friends. The tour was strategically designed to cover maximum highlights & built in breaks when we took public transit. This tour could not be any better!
BEST TOUR OF OUR USA TRIP
Tour is amazing. Our guide, Kevin, was knowledgeable, friendly, courteous & fun. He knows the insider tricks to get the best out of SF – from hidden stairwells, to lost tunnels, to the best street art. Also free fortune cookies :-). We got to ride historic cable cars, MUNI & BART. We got amazing views of the bay, hills, Golden Gate Bridge & many must-see sights, from unique vantage points beyond the reach of a bus tour. This tour is really good value – all transport is included.
12 Things to do in California
You’ve bought your airline tickets, you’re feeling the anticipation of your trip building and you’re starting to think about where exactly you’re going to go and what exactly you’re going to do once you get to California. Undoubtedly you already have some things on your to-do list, which is the reason for the journey here in the first place, but you’re looking to pad out your visit with other activities and side trips. But what are the must-do’s in California? Because, remember, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime visit, so you don't want to miss something you may always regret not seeing. Well, as a tour company located in the Golden State we have a fair idea of the kinds of activities you’re going to want to do and places you’re going to want to go while you’re here, so here’s a list of 12 things to do in California (not including the Bay Area).
1. NAPA VALLEY
Love wine, food and beautiful scenery? Who doesn’t, right? Well, then Napa Valley’s the place for you. Just an hour's drive north of San Francisco the area gets its name from the Napa River that flows through it and is well worth a few days to explore the many fine restaurants and vineyards that call the area home and to admire the gorgeous scenery.
2. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
National Parks – California is full of them and, arguably, Yosemite is the most famous. Gape, amazed, at the awesome majesty of El Capitan (not the Apple operating system, but the enormous chunk of granite that gave it its name), wander through the indescribably beautiful mountain meadows and follow an easy trail to see one of the many waterfalls that drop down into the valley. Better still hire a tent and spend a few days exploring the park. This is a must do!
3. SKIING AT MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN
You may not know it, but depending on when you’re visiting California you could experience some of the best skiing in North America at Mammoth. Hell! It’s one of the best winter sports centers in the world. It’s becoming less and less common (due to climate change), but usually you can even ski here on July 4th.
4. DEATH VALLEY
On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which contains the highest point in the lower forty-eight States (Mount Whitney), is the lowest point, the fabulously named Death Valley. So named by a group of prospectors who stumbled on the valley while making their way to the gold fields of Northern California in the nineteenth century (luckily they didn’t actually die here). It’s an incredible place to visit, although it does get insanely hot in the summer months.
5. MONTEREY/MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
If you take the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or California State Route 1) south from San Francisco you’ll come to this picturesque town on California’s rugged central coast. Take a half day to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium – it’s one of the best you’ll ever see. The town itself is very picturesque in parts too.
6. BIG SUR
Keep going down the coast from Monterey on the PCH and you’ll drive through the Big Sur. What is the Big Sur? It’s a coastline of unequalled beauty – forested Santa Lucia mountains rising dramatically from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, creating steep cliffs and beautiful, secluded, little beaches. As scenic drives go it’s right up there.
7. SAN LUIS OBISPO
Further down the Central Coast from Monterey is this beautiful town. Founded as a mission by the Spanish in the eighteenth century, it’s now home to a thriving restaurant and bar scene, which is as good as any in California. Didn’t get to visit Napa Valley? There are dozens of wineries in the surrounding countryside here too, so there's no excuse for not trying some of our great Californian wine.
8. SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Further south of Yosemite National Park is this National Park. It’s famous for its giant Sequoia trees (the Sequoiadendron giganteum to give them their scientific name), which are, as far as we know, the largest living things on earth. Apart from that the park is home to some quite sociable black bears and a lot of breathtaking scenery. Definitely worth a visit.
9. SANTA BARBARA
Like San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara was founded by Franciscan Missionaries in the eighteenth century and is now a beautiful city on what’s sometimes known as the American Riviera. The downtown area is full of fun bars and nice restaurants. There are also several wineries nearby. You could even see the city on a day trip from Los Angeles.
10. LOS ANGELES
It seems ridiculous to have Los Angeles occupying just one entry on our list, with so many things to see and do in this amazing, world-famous, city. From the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice, to historic Hollywood, to Griffith Park, to the skyscrapers and loft apartments of DTLA, to visiting a Movie Studio and, yes, to Disneyland, the list is endless. Above all LA has a great laid-back vibe, fantastic historic and cultural attractions and bountiful warm sunshine, so what's not to like? If you come to California you HAVE to go to Los Angeles. It’s that simple.
For the best possible experience of Los Angeles do a tour with our sister company there, The Real Los Angeles Tours, and tell them "hi" from us.
11. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
East of Los Angeles, past Palm Springs, lies this desert, almost Martian-like, landscape. Like Death Valley it does get ridiculously hot in the summer, but it’s worth putting on your itinerary so you can experience its desolate beauty. And if you like rock-climbing bring some equipment, it’s a popular spot for that too. You can also see it in a day trip from Los Angeles or you can bring a tent and camp out under the stars.
12. SAN DIEGO
Where to start? Balboa Park with its collection of great museums and the San Diego Zoo? The Gaslamp Quarter, with its restaurants, bars and clubs? Maybe the USS Midway Museum? Or the beach at La Jolla? What about Old Town San Diego? The point is, rather like San Francisco, there are a multitude of things to do in San Diego – more than enough in fact to very happily occupy several days.
If you have any feedback on our list of things to do in California, or if you have some recommendations of your own, please email us and let us know. We’ll be sure to take it into account.
This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps, click the icon in the top right corner.