California

Spanish explorers, gold rush pioneers, would-be film stars and tourists have all flocked to California in anticipation of finding America’s promised land. From the rolling Pacific surf, verdant vineyards, vibrant coastal cities and magnificent redwoods of the north to southern California’s dreamy desert resorts, golden beaches and cosmopolitan cities, there’s so much to discover in California at any time of year. In fact, there’s so much to experience that you can’t see it all in one visit so be prepared for a need to return, time and time again.

In California, life is good. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel healthy, just being there. Whether it’s in the enviable cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, or out in the pine-filled hills and cool lake-side retreats, you are sure to be kept on  your toes and buzzing with excitement as you explore this diverse and wondrous state.

California is touring country par excellence – a chance to pick up a shiny four-wheel convertible and drive ‘Route 1’ along the dramatic Big Sur Pacific shoreline. Spend your luxury California holiday twisting and turning amongst endless rolling vistas: snow-capped mountains, vast deserts, towering forests and crystal blue lakes.

For outright glamour, Los Angeles gets the biggest press. Beverly Hills…Rodeo Drive…Hollywood where film buffs can rub shoulders with Presley, Chaplin and Monroe on the celebrated Walk of Fame. In San Francisco, trams and steep streets link colourful neighbourhoods from Chinatown to the funfairs and fishing boats of Fisherman’s Wharf. Alcatraz glowers offshore whilst the Golden Gate Bridge frames the whole enticing picture. Surf-pounded beaches or quaint old mission towns; theme parks or baseball fields…California lives life with unrivalled verve.

Wonder at the Yosemite National Park; one of the first wilderness parks in the US, yet still maintaining its status as one of the country’s most popular national parks. Although famous for its incredible waterfalls, it also boasts over 1,165 square miles of extraordinarily deep valleys, grand meadows and ancient giant sequoias. Visitors marvel at its superb hiking and walking trails, fishing opportunities and the myriad of wildlife which call it home. Yosemite evokes an awe of mother natures’ magnificence making any visit a worthwhile experience.

For wine enthusiasts, a visit to the sun-drenched vineyards of Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino is a must. Discover your favourite vintage, as you taste your way around charming vineyards, staying in equally charming inns and hotels.

Andara Travel’s highlights include:

• Everyone should drive Highway 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway, but our tip is to do it from north to south. Whichever direction you take the scenery is stunning but you get a better view going south because you’re on the ocean side of the road.

• San Francisco – where do you start? Visit North Beach for the cafe culture, take a tour to Alcatraz (we recommend you pre-book it), see Lombard Street, cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a sightseeing tour of the city on a fire engine, shop in Union Square.

• Yosemite National Park is one of California’s great natural wonders. Stay for a couple of nights and include a guided horseback ride for a tour with a difference