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Northern California Adventure

11 nights Self Drive Tours

Virgin Holidays' view

From one of America’s most-loved cities to the vineyards of Sonoma County and the natural beauty of Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, NorCal is a little bit special. And, touring at a slow pace with long stopovers, you’ll have plenty of time to immerse yourself in its laidback spirit.

Your trip starts in San Francisco where you can tick off the city sights. And, with a bike for a day, we recommend a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, the beaches, and Muir Woods. Then, you'll leave the city lights behind as you drive up to the wineries and tasting rooms of Napa and Sonoma. As well as wine tasting, you can enjoy exquisite restaurants and chic galleries, and the vineyards are just perfect for afternoon strolls and biking. There are more sights to behold at Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and you’ll have time to bike or hike your way through the towering forests. For something more serene, simply wander along the beaches and shores of Lake Tahoe and snap Yosemite’s jaw-dropping sights, like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan.

Itinerary

Day 1: San Francisco

Fly to San Francisco from the UK and arrive at the Bay City. Upon check in, please ask the hotel reception for your ATI Tour documentation pack which will include your tour essentials. Accommodation stay – 3 nights in San Francisco.

Day 2: Cycling San Francisco

Uncover the city sights as you cycle your way along the coast, experience vibrant neighbourhoods, and see world famous Golden Gate Bridge by bike (rental included). Cross the bridge for spectacular views from Sausalito and take the ferry back for an up-close view of Alcatraz (optional). After touring the city and taking some time to relax, ride your bike and make your way to some of the city’s well-known neighborhoods and hidden gems to get a taste of their various cuisines.

Day 3: San Francisco

Today, get a unique perspective and take in the beautiful sights the Golden Gate City has to offer on an exciting hike where you share the path with locals. Make sure to have your camera ready and snap those postcard-perfect pictures to share back home.

Day 4: San Francisco - Sonoma

Pick up your rental car and leave San Francisco behind as you head north to Sonoma County, well-known for its exceptional wineries. On your way, spend the afternoon in the hub for American cycling, Santa Rosa, with roads tested by both world-class and first-time riders. You can also make your way over to nearby tasting experiences at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens and Matanzas Creek Winery where you can add a garden tour, flight of wines, or learn about the best food and wine pairings (optional). Accommodation stay – 3 nights in Sonoma.

Day 5: Sonoma Valley

Following your introduction to Sonoma County, your adventure enters the Sonoma Valley where you will find no shortage of entertainment. The Sonoma Valley is rich in history and a perfect destination for hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, and more. Enjoy an overview of the area and its various wineries, biking through Sonoma’s quiet country roads. There are over ten wineries within five miles, making a perfect day itinerary for you to pinpoint your favorite spots to visit on a leisurely ride on vineyard-lined roads (optional).

Day 6: Sonoma and Napa

After experiencing Sonoma on two wheels, discover some of the valley’s scenic gems walking and hiking. Follow the trails in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, also home to the largest observatory in the western United States. At the Sonoma State Historic Park you can visit the Mission San Francisco Solano (optional). Perhaps head over to Sonoma's more famous neighbour, Napa. Or, for something more laidback, make your way to downtown Sonoma. At Sonoma Plaza you'll find wine tasting rooms, shopping, galleries, and restaurants with menus featuring local farm and harvest bites (optional).

Day 7: Sonoma – Lake Tahoe

Continue to Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine Lake in North America, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Here, you will have the opportunity to bike away with calm paved roadways for the family and mountain biking for the more experienced rider (optional). The Forest Bicycle Trail will lead you to the two beautiful Lake Tahoe beaches, Pope and Baldwin. During your ride through the forest-filled route, you can stop to visit the restored Baldwin Estate and Forest Service Visitor Center before heading back to rest up for the following day’s activities (optional). Accommodation stay – 2 nights in Lake Tahoe.

Day 8: Lake Tahoe

On this day, the endless selection of trails will encourage you to hop off your bike and explore Lake Tahoe by foot. Three of the more popular trails include the Fallen Leaf Lake hike, perfect for families with gentle trails filled with wild flowers during the spring, Skyline trail, accessed by a lift (optional) for hikers looking for an exciting challenge, and Rubicon Trail, situated along the shorelines providing amazing photo opportunities. Following an active morning and afternoon, you will have plenty of dining options to choose from, with many locally owned restaurants offering a unique setting and signature dishes.

Day 9: Lake Tahoe – Yosemite

Drive to Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This stunning park covers over 1,000 square miles and is home to wildlife, stunning waterfalls and giant sequoias. Take a nature walk along one of the best trails in the National Park. Walk along the Yosemite Valley on a wide and smooth path allowing you to enjoy the natural landscape and beautiful scenery. Accommodation stay – 2 nights in Yosemite.

Day 10: Yosemite National Park

Following an extraordinary Yosemite Valley hike, enjoy more of the World Heritage Site Take on a new rewarding challenge by hiking Yosemite Falls Trail. This is one of Yosemite’s oldest trails and leads hikers up to the top of the tallest waterfall in North America. Pack lots of water and snacks to keep you energised. You do not need to reach the top to enjoy the amazing views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock, and have your camera ready to capture some stunning photographs.

Day 11: Yosemite – San Francisco

Spend the morning soaking up the smells and sounds of Yosemite, before make your way leisurely back to San Francisco. Spend the afternoon exploring Oakland’s waterfront before crossing over the bay and settling back into San Francisco for your last overnight. Accommodation stay – 1 night in San Francisco.

Day 12: Depart San Francisco

Return your hire car to the airport prior to your flight back to the UK (arrive on Day 13).

Please note: all hotels and locations are subject to change based on availabilityin Your final hotel list will be confirmed 10 days before departure.

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the itinerary and additional tour notes

Pre/Post Tour information

If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can easily add on a pre or post night stays for you. Our Sales Team will work with you to arrange the best connecting flights and book any additional hotel stays. Simply tell us what you’d like and we can arrange it.

Time difference

GMT -8 hours

Hotel list

Final hotel list will be confirmed 10 days prior to departure.

Tour inclusions

  • Accommodation listed
  • Welcome phone call from American Tours International on Day 1
  • Virgin Holidays branded rucksack with tour documentation and Atlas, please ask when you check in at your first hotel for your ‘ATI Pack’
  • Self-guided bike tour with 24-hour bike rental in San Francisco

Tour exclusions

  • All Flights and airport transfers in the UK
  • Travel Insurance
  • Car hire and insurance unless this has been booked by the sales consultant
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, tips & gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
  • The required ESTA application
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary

Dining inclusions

Room Only.

Included activities

Tours listed in the itinerary.

Visa requirements

It's mandatory for everyone travelling to or transferring through the US, under the Visa Waiver Program, to obtain approval to travel no later than 72 hours prior to travel by completing an online process ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA scheme). Failure to obtain an ESTA could result in the passenger being denied boarding by the airline.
The cost of an ESTA is currently approx $14 per person and can be obtained by visiting https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Once completed & approved, the ESTA application is valid for two years and allows multiple visits without the need to reapply – simply update your details on the same website. Travellers can apply for an ESTA even if they have no firmplans to travel to the US.
If you need any further information on the ESTA or you have any other visa queries, then try the Visit USA Website at www.visitusa.org.uk where further information on the scheme and up to date fee can also be found.

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Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - our website has thousands of options ready to book. But if you need more help, just give us a call on 0344 472 9499.

Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist. Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 30 September 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 31 December 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know as least 21 days before travel.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking you can call our team on 0344 472 9646.

For the latest information on Covid-19 you can check our FAQs here.

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're holiday is going ahead as planned


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. You can call our team on 0344 472 9499 who can look at options for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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