El Camino Real I - Missions of Northern California
El Camino Real I - Missions of Northern California
6 days – 5 nights
San Francisco, San Rafael, Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Juan Bautista, Carmel Monterey, Soledad, Jolon, San Miguel, Paso Robles
This program may be operated for individuals or for groups
This is a suggested and customizable itinerary
Day 1: Hometown, San Francisco (15 Miles)
Upon arrival at San Francisco airport pickup your car rental and drive to the city center for check-in at the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to rest and relax.
Day 2: San Francisco
Dedicate your day to discovering San Francisco starting with a Tuk-Tuk Tour of the city in an electric car. In this tour, your friends and family can cover more ground than they ever could on foot. Climb San Francisco’s tallest hills, marvel at the sparkling San Francisco Bay and city skyline, and enjoy the sights and smells of Fisherman’s Wharf. Your experienced, entertaining tour guide narrates your 2-hour excursion, with many photo stops. Return to the Fisherman’s Warf, a place that draws crowds that come to shop, eat and stroll along the docks. For those looking to get out on the bay, Take the opportunity to see Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square. Nearby, tour boats and ferries sail to Alcatraz from Pier 33 Alcatraz. You can stay on Alcatraz Island as long as you like, but please plan for two (2) hours to enjoy the Special Edition Audio Tour, view the exhibit, and explore the Island. It is recommended that you arrive at least forty-five (45) minutes prior to your departure time. Take time at the Warf to enjoy your dinner or return the city center or to your hotel. [B]
Day 3: San Francisco, San Jose (134 Miles)
Start your tour of northern California just in San Francisco at the mission of San Francisco de Asís whose simple exterior belies its sophisticated and detailed interior, enhanced by the magnificent ceiling painted by the Indians with vegetable-based paint. The church altar at Mission Dolores features several statues of the saints for whom the missions were named. This stunning and richly decorated interior is one of the most striking in the mission chain. Continue 20 miles north to San Rafael Arcángel, the first mission to be secularized. By 1861 the buildings had fallen into disrepair and eventually razed in 1870. In 1909 the Native Sons of the Golden West erected a bell and sign on the original site of the mission and in 1940, with a grant from the Hearst Foundation, a replica of the original 1818 structure was erected. Now, drive to Sonoma and take the opportunity to visit the wine country with more than 250 wineries spread out over the county. It’s little wonder that this corner of California has become synonymous with its wine. Delicate Pinot Noir, zesty Chardonnay and robust Cabernet Sauvignon flourish in these fertile soils and you should take the opportunity to visit one or two of the famous wineries. Maybe you want to enjoy lunch at one of the area restaurants and taste a local wine. In the afternoon visit the mission of San Francisco Solano whose church was built in 1841 to replace the original structure that had collapsed. The eye above the altar is referred to as “the eye of heaven”, which the fathers said allowed God to keep a watchful eye on the church. The earthquake of 1906 destroyed the mission, that was rebuilt a few years later. San José Mission in Fremont is 80 miles away and is your last stop of the day. In its heyday, Mission San José became successful in teaching the Indians music, thanks to the talents of Father Narcisco Durán. For 27 years Father Duran worked at the mission, organizing both a choir and a thirty-piece orchestra that became famous throughout California. Drive to your hotel for overnight. [B]
Day 4: San Jose, Monterey (128 Miles)
Today you’ll discover a different atmosphere as you drive 20 miles towards the Pacific Ocean on your way to Santa Clara de Asís. Built in 1871, destroyed in 1818 by an earthquake, razed in 1867, rebuilt in 1822 and destroyed by fire in 1926 fire the mission was rebuilt and remodeled a final time. The present church is bright and grand. The façade returned to its original one-tower design, embellished with carved wooden statues of the saints. The mission bell tower uses four bells, cast in 1798, 1799, 1805, and one in 1929, a gift from Spain’s King Alfonso XIII. Another short drive of 35 miles will take you to Mission Santa Cruz completed in 1931. The current chapel is one-third the size of the original. The previous bell tower contained nine or ten bells, while today’s replica contains only one. Inside the mission original paintings, statues and even a challis used by Father Serra, remain intact. Take time for a visit of Natural Bridges State Park and Beach, an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, seals and otters playing offshore. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. Then, you may want to enjoy lunch at one of the beachfront restaurants on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk a recreation park open for more than a century. Before continuing on the Camino Real take a short walk to the Santa Cruz Warf. This afternoon, continue 36 miles south to San Juan Bautista a mission built in 1797. Today, the mission remains as it was in 1812. Nearby stands an unspoiled section of the famous El Camino Real, or Kings Highway. Located just beyond the cemetery wall is a marker showing the direction the road took, connecting the 21 missions through 650 miles from San Diego to San Rafael. Today’s last leg of 37 miles takes you to lovely Carmel and the mission of San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo, also called Mission Carmel, founded in 1770. From the standpoint of government, Mission Carmel was the most important, serving as the headquarters for the entire mission chain from 1770 to 1803. California’s first library was started here and has grown substantially from the thirty books it contained in 1778. Take some time to visit Carmel Missions & Basilica Museum, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Continue for check-in at your hotel. [B]
Day 5: Monterey, Paso Robles (126 Miles)
After breakfast drive 45 minutes south towards Nuestra Señora de La Soledad, a mission small in size, but still a well-maintained part of California history. Like all missions, the fourteen stations of the cross adorn the walls of the mission church. Each church has a different version of the fourteen stations, or the journey of Jesus to Golgotha where he was crucified. These fourteen religious symbols are rare originals. A short drive will take you to Jolon to visit San Antonio de Padua. Like many of the missions, San Antonio de Padua fell into ruins after Secularization. Fortunately, restoration efforts have brought back the splendor of early California. In addition to its sophisticated water system, Mission San Antonio was the first to use a Spanish red-tile roof to protect it from fire hazards. In the afternoon, take another short drive to San Miguel Arcángel, the last on your Northern California itinerary. On the morning of December 22 ‘2003 the Central California Coast was hit by a powerful earthquake. Mission San Miguel, just 35 miles from the epicenter was severely damaged and closed until October 2009 when it re-opened following extensive renovations to the church and the cemetery. The mission museum features a sixteenth century Spanish wood carving of the mission patron saint, Saint Michael, victorious over Lucifer. After the visit continue to your hotel for overnight. [B]
Day 6: Paso Robles, San Jose, Hometown (160 Miles)
Depending on your flight schedule you may have some time to relax before a last drive to San Jose Airport where you drop-off your car and board your flight back home. [B]
[B] = Breakfast included
- Airfare New York-San Francisco//San Jose-New York
- 5 nights’ accommodation at hotels of your choice:
- San Francisco 2 nights
- San Jose area 1 night
- Monterey 1 night
- Paso Robles 1 night
- Breakfast daily where available
- Ford Fiesta rental for the duration of the trip including*:
- Automatic Transmission
- Air Conditioning
- 2 doors
- 4 seats
- Unlimited Mileage
- Sales Tax
- Local Fees
- Free Cancellation
- 2-hour San Francisco Tuk-Tuk Tour
- Boat trip to Alcatraz: ($41)
- Round-trip ferry service to Alcatraz Island
- View messaging left by Indians during the 1969 Occupation
- Visit Eagle Plaza, the Recreation Yard, the Sally Port, and the Rose Garden
- Scenic vistas of the Cellhouse, Building 64, Warden's House, Water Tower, Officer's Club and Model Industries Building
- 30-minute Special Edition Audio Tour
Not included in tour
- Airfare taxes and fees
- Car rental does not include:
- Additional Driver: $90
- Child Seat: $90
- Booster Seat: $90
- Rental GPS: $90
- Meals not mentioned under inclusions
- Travel Insurance
- Early check-in or late check out
- Wi-Fi in rooms
- Tips to guides or drivers
- Expenses of a personal nature
- Any item not mentioned as “Included”
|San Francisco||El Rancho Inn Signature Collection||4|
|San Jose area||Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fremont Milpitas||4.5|
|Monterey||Pacific Inn Monterey||4|
|Paso Robles||Holiday Inn Express & Suites Paso Robles||4.5|
|San Francisco||RIU Plaza Fishermans Wharf||3.5|
|San Jose area||Hilton Santa Clara||4|
|Monterey||Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa||3.5|
|Paso Robles||Sundance Bed & Breakfast||5|
|Superior First Class|
|San Francisco||Palace Hotel a Luxury Collection Hotel||4.5|
|San Jose area||The Fairmont San Jose||4|
|Monterey||InterContinental the Clement Monterey||4.5|
|Paso Robles||CaliPaso Winery and Villa||4.5|
Hotels will be confirmed at time of booking
From: $609 including airfare from New York
Add-ons available from all US gateways.
Price above, based on Superior Tourist hotels and a minimum of 6 people traveling together, is per person and may change without notice. Prices for smaller or larger parties available.
These programs can be customized for individuals and for groups
Changes to this program may be requested by phone (1855-55-TOURS) or using the web FIT Quote Request
We also be glad to add the necessary airfare from your gateway so you take advantage of our special discounted leisure fares
You may add or remove;
Cities and sites
If you prefer deluxe services we may operate this program including private driver, private guide and concierge service.
Once we have designed the program the way you want we'll give you a quote within 2 business days.
Tour Code: US02SFO21DTT
Lunches and dinners can be arranged for individuals, families and groups at top restaurants or any restaurant requested by you.
We can revise the itinerary to spend more time and provide more depth in those areas that you are interested on.
Any other changes to the itinerary will be accommodated depending on the facilities available in the area.
Car can be upgraded upon request
If you wish to use these programs for your group or as the basis for a customized journey please either call us (1-855-55-TOURS or use the web Group Quote Request.
In either case our specialists will work with to refine all the details and they will get you a quote with 2 business days. Quotes may be obtained for the air and land portions of just for the lad journey.
Booking both air and land with us will represent savings for you because of our buying power and longtime relationship with the airlines.
We will also may have the choice between regular fares and special leisure fares not available to the public.