Best for… natural world wanderers
The journey: San Francisco – Napa Valley – Yosemite (8 nights)
Begin in the city by the Bay, San Francisco (three nights) and head to trendy Pier 2620 to check in. Hopefully you’ve remembered to pack some comfy shoes to tackle its notoriously undulating hills, or rely on one of the three remaining cable car lines to scale the steepest slopes. The least-crowded is the California Street car, which easily scales Nob Hill and leads to spectacular views including the so-called Painted Ladies on the southeast slope of Alamo Park – they’re superb examples of San Francisco’s gingerbread house-like Victorian dwellings.
Drive across the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, but be sure to hairpin back as soon as you reach the other side, as the viewing area there is the best vantage point for snaps of both bridge and city
Indulge in some outdoorsy pursuits in Golden Gate Park, where the winding paths and landscape studded with copses make ideal terrain for jogging or biking. Once you’ve worked up enough of an appetite, hit the foodie mecca of the Ferry Building Marketplace, an erstwhile commuter terminal repurposed as a gourmet mall – try the bourbon and cornflake ice cream at Humphry Slocombe.
Hire a car with Avis and head north to Napa Valley (two nights). Drive across the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, but be sure to hairpin back as soon as you reach the other side, as the viewing area there is the best vantage point for snaps of both bridge and city. Once you arrive in the valley, hit some of the 300 or so wineries – standouts include sparkling specialist Mumm and Beringer with its neo-Gothic tasting room. Grab an order of fresh tacos from C Casa and find a relaxing spot on the outdoor deck. Settle down to for a sound night’s sleep at the luxurious yet cozy River Terrace Inn.