California Dreaming, 11 Days
Los Angeles • Bakersfield • Yosemite • Lake Tahoe • Napa Valley • San Francisco • Monterey • San Simeon • Los Angeles
Starting in Los Angeles, your motorcycle takes you out of town via one of L.A.'s finest scenic drives and drops you at Lake Isabella at the outskirts of Sequoia National Park. Hugging the park boundary you'll cruise your bike north into Yosemite National Park and via Jamestown to Lake Tahoe, a first class vacation resort with half of the lake in California and the other half in Nevada.
From here you'll begin to make your way West and via California's state capital Sacramento you drop into Napa Valley to experience some of the better things in life. A little further south the city of San Francisco is waiting to present its sights to you and we enter in style by riding our motorcycles across Golden Gate Bridge.
Leaving this beautiful place behind another tidbit waits at the West Coast - our ride down Highway 1 along the breathtaking coastline of California. You'll encounter an epic ride through Big Sur which leads us to the central coast and into Southern California. Visits to Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara make this western adventure complete, before you head back South to your beginning and ending destination Los Angeles.
- Arrival Los Angeles.
Welcome to Los Angeles California! This is the official arrival day. After you pass through the exit doors catch one of the complimentary airport shuttles which are departing at the middle isle outside the terminal and will transfer you to your hotel which is located conveniently and close to LAX. Your tour guides will be there to help with the check-in process, get paperwork out of the way and to give you useful and important information about the upcoming adventure. During the initial tour briefing this evening, you will find out verything about your tour. After that you'll have time to enjoy a dip in the beautiful hotel pool, grab a bite to eat and have a drink. Get a good night's rest because tomorrow we begin the first part of an exciting journey.
EARLY BIRDS - if you're getting in a day or two early, we definitely suggest you rent a car and pay a visit to the Getty Museum, a program of the J.Paul Getty Trust, which is an art museum. It has two locations, one at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California and one at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California. The museum at the Getty Center is the one to visit; you pay for parking only - no entrance fees are due to the museums. The Tram that operates from the parking garage to the museums already offers amazing views. As you arrive at the main buildings, designed by famous architect Frank Gehry, you know this is well worth the visit – a peaceful environment in a striking landscape. There are four buildings of art of stunningly beautiful quality, the architecture and grounds are worth the trip alone. It offers a wonderful outdoor cafe with views of L.A. It's amazing that this was one family’s private collection of art and it took two separate museums to house! The scenery is lovely and the views are breath taking. The art collections are amazing with work from Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet just to name a few. From your hotel to the museum it’s only 12 miles.
- Los Angeles to Bakersfield, 210 miles / 336 km
Take a look out the window and savor the amazing sunrise that signals the beginning of a new day. We start it with a good American breakfast and then pack our suitcases and bags to get ready for the transfer to our motorcycles. A few signatures later youХre sitting in the saddle of your favorite motorcycle, cruising down HWY 1 through Malibu along the precious Pacific Ocean. This Hwy is a 25 mile scenic drive with breathtaking views of the ocean and it's plastered with homes of the rich and famous. The road now becomes twisty as we head up Decker Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains and let's every rider's heart beat faster. We stop for lunch at the Deer Lodge, relax and grab some food, but everyone is getting kind of itchy to continue the thrilling ride through the mountains and Los Padres Nation al Forest.
As we ride over the ridge and come out the other end we get into Maricopa and reach Bakersfield, gateway city to Sequoia National Park.
Our hotel offers every possible amenity, a contemporary - modern lobby, beautiful rooms with comfortable beds and pillows that make you want to sleep for days, a large pool and whirlpool area and a fitness room. What a treat!
- Bakersfield to Oakhurst (448 km)
Early in the morning we leave Bakersfield and ride toward Lake Isabella which lies peacefully at the Sequoia National Forest. The fun begins right away as weХre getting on a fantastic twisty road right after heading out of the city. Kern River accompanies us all the way to Lake Isabella and invites to stop at each pullout. You really wouldn't expect this kind of terrain and scenery right outside Bakersfield. Lake Isabella and Kern River are the area's prime water sport resource and visitors can choose from white water rafting, kayaking, boating, sailing, water skiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, fishing and whitewater rafting.
We follow the beautiful setting and the road hugs along the outskirts of the National Forest. The Sequoia is one of nineteen National Forests in California. It takes its name from the giant sequoia, the world's largest tree, which grows in more than 30 groves on the forest's lower slopes. The Sequoia's landscape is as spectacular as its trees. Soaring granite monoliths, glacier - torn canyons, roaring whitewater, and more await your discovery at the Sierra Nevada's southern end. Elevations range from 1,000 feet in the foothill region to peaks over 12,000 feet in the rugged high country, providing visitors with some of the most spectacular views of mountainous landscape in the entire west.
As we're making our way north, we're passing Fresno and reach our destination Oakhurst at the border of another well known recreational area - Yosemite National Park.
- Oakhurst to South Lake Tahoe (416 km)
After a hearty breakfast we swing ourselves into the saddle and ride our iron horses into Yosemite National Park. Before we enter the park we take a ride through the countryside. With rolling hills and gray - blue clouds in the distance and dark green trees among endless fields of yellow grass you're vividly reminded about a TV show that played some 35 years ago: "Little House on the Prairie". We get to Mariposa, follow the road to Jamestown and boy, is this some ride! It might sound old by now but yes, the road is twisty! There are some pretty narrow and tight bends, and then the road opens up, straightens and offers a stop in Coulterville. The old historic Hotel Jeffery, est. in 1851, has changed ownership several times in the past years. What a neat little town; the time seems to have stopped here years ago.
A little further down the road we pass the Don Pedro Reservoir and head up to Jamestown in California Gold Country.
A walk down Main Street in Historic Jamestown is a step back in time. You'll see a mixture of buildings from different eras; wooden buildings dating from the winding down of the Gold Rush, or buildings in the Victorian style from the turn into the 20th century. Stone buildings with iron shutters from about the same time designed to withstand the fires that were common at that time. You can dine at the Willow Steak House (established 1864), where the builders of the Sierra Railway once hung out in the bar. You can have lunch or ice cream at "Here's the Scoop", with its old - style decor including a bar that came from a historic San Francisco saloon. In the early summer of 1848 - a few months after the famous discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento that started the Gold Rush on Oregon man named Benjamin Wood discovered the first gold in the area in what is now known as Woods Creek. The discovery site is about 1 mile west of what is today downtown Jamestown.
It's hard to get away from this town as there is so much to see but weХve got to get back on our bikes to master the next leg of the tour; the ride into Yosemite and across Sonora Pass.
Sonora Pass rises almost 2 miles in the sky, at an elevation of 9,628 feet above sea level. This is about as high as anyone can drive at this height in the sky. It's like walking on air. There was one single "Bonanza" episode only that was filmed at Sonora Pass were segments of "Stallion" in August - September of 1972. The ridge tops at the pass were used in three different regions, so it could be filmed realistically and the narrow highway would have to be out of camera frame, since the roadway was the base for getting to all the mountain slopes, making this the most dangerous outdoor episode ever filmed.
As we're dropping down onto Hwy 395 we veer left and make our way to Lake Tahoe our final destination for today. Our first rate hotel, the Lakeshore Lodge & Spa, is of course located right at the lake with lake views from every room. As we sit at the dinner table everybody talks about the gorgeous day thatХs passed and the excitement that lies ahead of us tomorrow.
- Lake Tahoe Adventure and spare day.
This is action day! If you are not up for relaxation you can choose from adventure packages like:
- Jet Ski
- Sailing Excursion on 16 ft Windrider
- and more
- Lake Tahoe to Napa Valley (368 km)
As we're making our way west to Napa we are passing through California's state capital Sacramento; a visit which shouldnХt be missed on this tour we feel. Sacramento has a very attractive, ornate state capitol building. The third capitol building in Sacramento was begun in 1860 and completed in 1874. Although broadly similar in its basic neo-classical design similar to the U.S. Capitol, it has many unique elements and rich detail. This capitol has a very aesthetically appealing layout and the combination of the dark dome one white structure gives an aesthetically interesting appearance. The visit to the museum including a guided tour is free.
Another very worthwhile excursion is the visit of the California State Railroad Museum a tribute to the role of the "iron horse" in connecting California to the rest of the nation. We can ensure that the visit offers something for everyone. The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some dating back to 1862. There is a full-scale diorama of an 1860s construction site high in the Sierra Nevada, featuring the locomotive Gov. Stanford, as well as a bridge elevated 24 feet (7 m) above the museum floor. A reconstructed passenger station and freight depot circa 1867 is one block from the museum. During the summer, a steam train takes visitors from the depot on a 40-minute, six-mile roundtrip route along the Sacramento River using their tourist line, the Sacramento Southern Railroad.
After enjoying our history lectures we track West and drop into Napa Valley via Lake Berryessa and reach the city of Napa. In the mid 1850s, Napa's Main Street rivaled that of many larger cities, with as many as 100 saddle horses tied to the fences on an average afternoon. Hotels were crowded; cash slugs and California coinage were plentiful. Saloons and gambling emporiums were numerous. Today Napa is a vibrant and modern town with a respect for its past. Just down the road from the protected historic districts, home to some of northern California's finest Victorian homes, you will find visually stimulating contemporary architecture. Minutes from the safe and comfortable neighborhoods lies the popular Main Street "Restaurant Row" - already a crowd - pleaser and growing better every day.
We check in at our hotel at the historic Napa Mill right at the river, of course located in the center of where it all happens and begin the relaxing part of the day, food and wine at its best.
- Napa Valley to San Francisco (224 km)
Napa Valley is one of the most recognized wine - growing areas in the world. What we are experiencing today is the back road of Napa Valley, the so called Silverado Trail. Most visitors stick to Highway 29, the major thoroughfare through the Napa Valley. While the majority of the valley's wineries are located on the highway, more than three dozen can be found on the less - traveled Silverado Trail. "The Trail", as locals call it, was laid out as a stagecoach route. Along this scenic route, you'll be treated to fresh vistas as well, thanks to the Trail's varying elevation and the absence of buildings except for wineries and private residences. Calistoga and its attractive restaurants on Lincoln Avenue invite us for some ice cream, an espresso and a stroll down the sidewalks. Then we continue or ride and cruise into Santa Rosa via an awe - inspiring road in Petrified Forest. We keep heading west and finally reach the town of Bodega Bay. Have you had any strange encounters with birds yet? If you're an Alfred Hitchcock fan you can see the over 150 year old Potter School House featured in the movie "The Birds".
We're now on Highway 1 for the first time on this trip, getting ready for another curvy rollercoaster ride on bikes. At Muir Beach the road leaves the ocean and cuts inland which we use as a trigger to visit charming Sausalito before diving back into San Francisco.
This expensive piece of real estate offers its residents as well as visitors stunning views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Clocks seem to tick a little different in Sausalito and the entire town appears to be in a very relaxed state of mind. There is an Italian restaurant that lures us to have lunch Р and their wood fire pizza is oh so good.
Now let's hit the road and get the final piece of road done for the day; but it's not just any piece of road, the track will lead us over the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. Don't forget to put a flower in your hair when you reach your hotel. As always when you're on tour with us, your place for the night is first class and located right at Fisherman's Wharf.
- San Francisco spare day.
We spend the day in the beautiful and diverse city of San Francisco, nicknamed "The Paris of the West". Take today to go out and explore this incredible city, perhaps go for a walk down to Fisherman's wharf, take a cruise out to see America's most notorious prison Alcatraz Island, and then maybe have lunch in Chinatown. There are many museums and world class shops located in downtown; whatever you do, donХt forget a ride in one of the cable cars that are still making their way up and down the steep hills of San Francisco. No matter what you decide to do, enjoy this amazing city and all it has to offer.
Then, in the evening, we have a cruise of the San Francisco Bay included for you. It is the perfect ending of a perfect day. Departing from Pier 43 1/2 in the heart of Historic FishermanХs Wharf, sail past the San Francisco skyline and view the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, the San Francisco Maritime National Park, and numerous other exciting sights.
On this relaxed 2-hour cruise, enjoy spectacular sunset views, live guitar music and hearty appetizers that include a variety of sandwiches, salads, fruit, and dessert. Cruise past the infamous island of Alcatraz, around Angel Island National Park and along the beautiful shorelines of Tiburon and Sausalito, as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Don't miss incredible photo opportunities when sailing directly under the massive 4,200-foot span of the 746-foot tall Golden Gate Bridge. Seen enough for today? Let's head back to the hotel and get some rest.
- San Francisco to Monterey (202 km)
This morning we head out of town, stopping briefly at the top of Twin Peaks; an other lookout point that offers a fantastic view overlooking San Francisco from the south. Now it's time to hit Pacific Coast Highway 1, to begin our upcoming, thrilling journey down the California coast. We head down PCH stopping occasionally to take pictures and enjoy the views. We take a break for lunch at a little sandwich bar just before Santa Cruz, overlooking the ocean. If you look closely you might even see whales just off the coast. Should it be foggy Р which is heard of in the San Francisco area Р we'll take another thrilling ride along Skyline Boulevard which leads us to the famous Alice's Restaurant, the gathering place of all motorcycle aficionados that come from anywhere up to 100 miles just to stop by, hang out, eat and talk to fellow riders.
Then it's back on the road winding our way to Monterey. We should arrive early enough to take some time to explore Cannery Row or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is known as one of the best aquariums in the world. Our extra charming and cozy hotel of Spanish heritage is hacienda style inspired and located close to FishermanХs Wharf in the heart of Old - Town Monterey Р where else would you expect us to stay?
- Monterey to San Simeon (145 km)
We start the day by riding a short distance into town; Clint Eastwood once was the mayor of Carmel for some time. He stills owns a lot of property out there and if weХre lucky... you never know! WeХll take some time for a coffee and stroll up and down Ocean Ave, looking at some of the several art galleries and do some window shopping at the cute but expensive little shops. After spending a few thousand imaginary dollars itХs time to get back on the road. What lies ahead is some of the best and most magnificent scenery the Pacific Coast has to offer. Today is Big Sur day! The scenery in Big Sur, California cannot be done justice by film or secondhand account. An eclectic populace and cosmic vibe flows through the area and a table with a view isnХt hard to come by in one of the restaurants. Neither is a sense of well - being. Riding the tremendous road through Andrew Molera and Pfeiffer state parks represents cliffs, rocks, redwoods and effervescent surf which create an epic backdrop for recreation and relaxed exploration. Big Sur is a powerful place, mystic and spiritual Р this is why we give you time to explore all by yourself. Stopping at your personal favorite spot, you stare at the ocean for a while and see an eagle draw circles high above the cliffs. As she flies out over the ocean you get back in the saddle to continue your own journey through incredible Big Sur.
There will be two favorite lunch stops weХre going to recommend to you before we cut you lose, in order to meet you in a few hours down the road.
Now the road drops down to sea level and we stop at the ever lazy sea elephants that are dozing in the afternoon sun. From here itХs just a couple of minutes until we reach Hearst Castle where we go on a tour.
Hearst Castle is a great diversion when visiting the central coast. The castle shows a taste of the life of William Randolph Hearst and his eclectic collecting passion. This magnificent estate of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways commands an impressive view of the Pacific Ocean as well as the hills and dales of the Santa Lucia mountain range. It took over thirty years for William Randolph Hearst to develop his ranch into what is Hearst Castle today.
After such an awe - inspiring day it's just more than fair that we check in at an exclusive beach front hotel right at the water. After dinner at the hotelХs great restaurant, weХre taking a short walk down to the beach, overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the beginning sunset dyes the vast, gigantic sea. Watching its reflections in every wave concludes another extraordinary day of our tour.
- San Simeon to Los Angeles (376 km)
Our last day of riding takes us down PCH for the morning until we cut inland to experience a breathtaking back road that will lead us through strawberry fields and wineries to another little gem, hidden deep in the brush of the Los Padres National Forest. At Los Olivos we are very close to the Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson's former retreat. Fifteen minutes down the road we get to Solvang, a Danish town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Besides the oh so yummy Danish pastries this town has something else to offer: an excellent collection of two - wheelers in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum which opens its doors just for us today. The collection is quite broad with something for everyone, ranging from a 1910 FN to the present, and across all makes. The emphasis is tilted toward racing motorcycles. At the museum, you will find names such as AJS, BMW, Ducati, Gilera, Matchless, Moto Guzzi, MV, Norton, Triumph, Velocette and Vincent. Keep your credit cards close Р some of the models are up for sale.
WeХre also near another sun drenched California city, Santa Barbara, where we stop for lunch right on the pier. We know this place is very inviting but we still have some riding to do. After weХve recharged we continue down the coast through Malibu and into the greater Los Angeles area. If we have time we will stop at Santa Monica pier for a brief visit, and then we go and reluctantly return our motorcycles which have carried us over 1600 miles for the past 10 days. After turning in the bikes we go back to the hotel to freshen up before our complimentary farewell dinner and celebration that evening. ItХs time for a few drinks with our newly made friends and riding companions.
Los Angeles. Departure.
Today is the day to pack your bags, filled with the experiences and memories of a fantastic tour of California; it's time to head home. Have a safe journey and we hope to see you back for another motorcycling Sunride through the United States.
If you'd like to stay additional days we are happy to arrange those for you.