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Best of the West: California & Las Vegas

16-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,400 pp incl. flights


Short description

An all-encompassing road trip pairing iconic cities with serene nature


  • Drive California's most iconic roads, including The Pacific Coast Highway
  • Visit three stunning National Parks – Yosemite, Death Valley and Joshua Tree
  • Visit San Francisco's Union Square and famous Golden Gate Bridge
  • Experience the legendary neon lights of Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world
  • Enjoy the dazzling coastline of San Diego, with its pristine sandy beaches

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Los Angeles
  • 1 Night Santa Barbara
  • 1 Night Monterey
  • 2 Nights San Francisco
  • 2 Nights Yosemite NP
  • 1 Night Death Valley
  • 2 Nights Las Vegas
  • 1 Night Palm Springs
  • 2 Nights San Diego


Recommended for:
Beach | City | Desert | Natural world | Self-drive

Uncover the best of western USA's natural and man-made wonders on this highlight-packed road trip. There's only one place to start, as you pair city sophistication with the romance of Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and Venice Beach in California's glamorous Los Angeles. Then, after checking out of your Santa Monica hotel, you'll hit the road to take in everything from the beach-town vibes of Santa Barbara and San Diego to the famous Pacific Coast Highway and some magnificent national parks, with Yosemite's stunning nature and the extreme landscapes of Death Valley among the highlights. And, covering all bases, this all-encompassing road trip also takes in some of America's most iconic cities, including San Francisco, with its vibrant neighbourhoods and Golden Gate Bridge, and the bright lights of glitzy Las Vegas.

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-2
UK to Los Angeles/Santa Monica

Begin with your complimentary airport lounge access before boarding your day flight to Los Angeles on California's Pacific Coast. On arrival, make your way to your chosen hotel in nearby Santa Monica before heading out to explore the LA's many attractions. Synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the movies, you may choose to spend the afternoon hiking up to the iconic Hollywood sign or visiting the famous Walk of Fame, where more than 2,600 brass stars pay homage to some of Hollywood's most revered celebrity stars. Otherwise, head to Venice Beach for a splash of seaside fun, or explore Santa Monica itself, with its wide golden sands, boutique shops, bustling markets and iconic pier.

Stay: Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica (Standard) or Shore Hotel, Santa Monica (Superior)

Day 3
Santa Barbara

Collect your hire car and drive north out of Santa Monica along the coast to idyllic Santa Barbara, sitting between the Santa Ynez mountains and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. It's easy to see why so many movie stars have called this city home over the ages – from the likes of Oprah Winfrey to Brad Pitt. Hugging both the stunning beaches and Highway 101, the city is comprised of Spanish-style architecture and possesses an old world beauty befitting of its nickname, “The American Riviera.”. Within an hour of Santa Barbara is the Saint Ynez Valley (made famous by the film ‘Sideways’) – there are numerous wineries open for tastings. Check in to your centrally located hotel and head out to explore the historic buildings and cobblestone streets of this famous city.

Stay: Inn By The Harbour, Santa Barbara (Standard) or Kimpton Canary Hotel (Superior)

Day 4

Before leaving upmarket Santa Barbara, spend the morning enjoying its Mediterranean style and attractions. Then, join the famously scenic Highway 1 for an unforgettable drive. The road winds around coastal California, with miles of blooming flowers and sprawling vineyards to your right and endless spectacular rock formations and pounding Pacific waves to the left, eventually leading to the dramatic and rugged cliffs of Big Sur, the most dramatic stretch of the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. You'll then arrive in the affluent and idyllic beach towns of Carmel and Monterey, where you'll make your way to your hotel. Opt to head to the docks to spot harbour seals basking on the rocks before enjoying a sumptuous seafood dinner.

Stay: Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa (Standard) or InterContinental the Clement Monterey (Deluxe)

Days 5-6
San Francisco

If you skipped the 17 Mile Drive on the previous day, consider backtracking a little to explore it today. This famous drive takes you through a wind-sculpted forest of cypress trees and an impossibly scenic stretch of rocky coastline dotted with some of the most envy-inducing estates and houses in the US. Be sure to stop off for pictures of the iconic Lone Cypress Tree. Then, head north again as you continue your scenic journey accompanied by views of wooded hills and sparkling lakes towards San Francisco where you'll spend the next two nights. 

Undoubtedly one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, you'll spend these two days fully exploring its eclectic mix of suburbs, from trendy Nob Hill to lively Chinatown to bustling Fisherman’s Wharf, a waterfront hub where seafood restaurants overlook a fishing boat-filled harbour and colonies of sunbathing sea lions. Be sure to spare enough time for a visit to the abandoned federal prison of Alcatraz (ensure you purchase a ferry ticket in advance), ride the cable cars and of course photograph the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Stay: The Marker San Francisco or Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco (Superior), or The Argonaut, San Francisco (Deluce)

Days 7-8

Today, you'll say farewell to the coast as you head inland for the first time. North of the city, you'll find towering redwood forests and the vibrant wine regions of Sonoma and Napa. Consider a day excursion or extension to your trip with some time in either of these renowned regions. We particularly recommend the Napa Valley Wine Tour where, after an early start from the city, you'll board the train in Napa and enjoy a three-course gourmet lunch among rolling valleys before an included vineyard tour and tasting. Speak with our specialists if you wish to add an extension.

The four-hour drive to Yosemite National Park is one of the most scenic and underrated in the country, featuring winding mountain roads lined with ancient redwoods and pristine nature trails. We recommend an early start today to make the most of your time in the national park. Yosemite itself is nature at its absolute best, with breathtaking forested valleys, effervescent waterfalls and dramatic mountain backdrops. After making your way to your chosen lodge on the gateway to the national park, spend the next two days hiking, biking or spotting wildlife in the stunning surroundings. Leave enough time to marvel at the giant redwood trees in Mariposa Grove to the south before driving up to Glacier Point for a spectacular sunset backdrop.

Stay: Yosemite View Lodge (Standard) or Tenaya Lodge (Superior)

Day 9
Death Valley

Today is one of the longest days of the road trip, however we recommend starting later in the day so as to avoid the mid-day heat of the desert. Why not break down the journey with visits to the likes of Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park or Mammoth Lakes? Then, the scenery changes dramatically as you enter the striking desert landscapes of Death Valley, in the northern Mojave Desert. Brimming with otherworldly landscapes, this remarkable national park is characterised by miles upon miles of towering sand dunes, technicolor rocks and canyons, as well as a plethora of elusive wildlife endemic to the region, and beautifully adapted to the harsh climate. Check in to your hotel before exploring the crusty salt flats and awe-inspiring desert landscapes of one of the hottest places on earth.

*Please note: from late October / November to spring the Tioga Pass is closed, leading to a longer drive between Yosemite and Death Valley. To shorten the time spent in the car, we recommend adding a night in Bakersfield.

Stay: The Inn at Death Valley (Superior)

Days 10-11
Las Vegas

Twinkling into view, the unmistakable Las Vegas skyline rises from the desert as you approach "Sin City". Carved out of the Mojave Desert with entertainment at its forefront, millions of visitors from all corners of the globe visit every year to stay in themed hotels, witness acclaimed theatrical shows and experience the world's most extravagant casinos. After checking into your glamorous hotel, the fun begins on the Strip – Las Vegas' main artery. With unparalleled attractions, first-rate nightlife and some of the biggest names in entertainment, over the next two days you can enjoy the many pursuits of this iconic city. Why not start by hitting the town's tables, elegant bars and world-class restaurants.

Stay: The Mirage Resort and Casino (Standard) or Bellagio, Las Vegas (Deluxe)

Day 12
Palm Springs

If the last two days in Las Vegas have overloaded your senses, your next stop will be the perfect remedy. Check out of your hotel this morning before heading south through desert mountains and the stunning Joshua Tree National Park –  a vast protected area with bristled Joshua trees, worth a stop – to the oasis city of Palm Springs. With over 350 days of sunshine a year, Palm Springs gushes to life with majestic palm groves, inviting swimming pools and world-class golf courses. Fed by a deep underground aquifer, it is the perfect setting for a relaxing spa retreat. Check in to your spa hotel and opt to rejuvenate with the numerous wellness treatments on offer. Spend the rest of your day at your leisure.

Stay: Palm Mountain Resort & Spa (Standard) or JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa (Deluxe)

Days 13-14
San Diego

Today, you'll drive south back towards the Pacific coast on your way to laidback San Diego. A waterfront city with top-notch restaurants, beautiful surf beaches and authentic neighbourhoods, San Diego does not disappoint. Spend these two days enjoying authentic Mexican food, relaxing on one of the long sandy beaches or take a hop-on hop-off trolley tour for an introduction to the myriad wonders of the city, including stops at Seaport Village, Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza and Little Italy.

Stay: Andaz San Diego (Standard) or San Diego Mission Bay Resort (Superior)

Days 15-16
Return to UK

Enjoy your last morning at leisure before making your way to Los Angeles Airport for a drop off of your hire car and your overnight flight home, arriving in the UK on day 16. if you're keen to extend your trip in any of the locations throughout the itinerary or wish to arrange de-tours, contact our specialists who will design a specially tailored itinerary.



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

16-day tailor-made self-drive
from £3,400 pp incl. flights


Low Season

from £3,400 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £3,815 pp. incl. flights


  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return flights between the UK and Los Angeles
  • 13 days Compact car hire including personalised road book
  • 14 nights in a mixture of 3* (Standard) & 4* (Superior) accommodation on a room only basis

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0636 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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