8-Day California Coast Excursion

Day 1 You'll See:

Beachside Sunset Pixabay Public Domain

Day 2 You'll See:

Day 3 You'll See:

Day 4 You'll See:

Day 5 You'll See:

Day 6 You'll See:

Day 7 You'll See:

  • Runyon Canyon Park
  • Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills
  • Farmers Market and the Grove
  • Dinner in San Diego

Day 8 You'll See:

The California Coast is a truly special place to see, especially if you’ve never seen it before or don’t get to see it often!


Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf

Begin your immersive California Coast experience with a stop at one of the most iconic spots in San Francisco, Pier 39! This 45-acre landmark attraction provides an old-fashioned amusement park scene, complete with spectacular views of the 300-berth marina by the bay, the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate, and Alcatraz. Not only is the view truly amazing, but you will have front-row seats to the antics of the herds of sea lions stationed on K-Dock! There are several full-service restaurants, charming cafes, and local snack shacks all serving up seafood ‘so fresh it was swimming this morning’. There are also unique attractions and activities everywhere you look on Pier 39, such as the musical stairs, magical mirror maze, Bay Theatre, Aquarium of the Bay, or San Francisco Carousel. Oh, and you better believe there are some really great souvenir and local shopping opportunities at this fairly large Wharf, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack some cash!  

7-D Experience 

While at Pier 39 we suggest your group finds a delicious dinner at any of the fresh seaside eateries you have to choose from, then find some entertainment for the night, namely the 7-D Experience! This award-winning 7-D DarkRide provides your group with 5 full minutes of roller coaster-style motion plus an arcade chock-full of other 3-D games and laser courses, giving you ‘all the thrill of a roller coaster and excitement of state-of-the-art laser blasting game all at once!’. Enjoy the 20-seat theater, massive movie screen, and newest 3D technology as you ride, blast, and compete ‘in other dimensions’ with the 7D ride, with choices such as Zombies, Gigamon, Los Banditos, or Road Fighters. Once you blast your way through this attraction head over to the Lazer challenge and try to make your way through the web of lights, a truly entertaining way to spend your first San Francisco evening!


Golden Gate Bridge 

You’ll be saying ‘good morning’ to the most popular San Francisco icon to start out your second day, a morning trip to the spectacularly breathtaking span of the bridge known as the Golden Gate. This high-visibility ‘international orange’ cable and the steel covered bridge is ranked 5th on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture, as well as being declared one of the modern wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why! The entire span of the bridge crosses the three-mile wide channel between the Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and also technically connects Marin County to the city. The Golden Gate flexes and rolls across the water, usually covered in the morning fog and ethereal afternoon sunlight, glowing and golden after dark. Walk, bike, or drive across, just be sure you visit the Visitor Plaza on the east end to see the all-new visitor experiences, including commemorative and interpretive souvenirs!


San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest community of predominately Chinese descent outside of Asia, as well as the oldest in North America. This region of the city consistently ranks as a top attraction, a draw to local culture fiends and curious travelers alike. Covering an impressive total of 24 city blocks and overlapping 5 different postal codes, San Francisco’s Chinatown encompasses an area roughly a mile long and 1.5 miles wide. As most things go in this city, you can see Chinatown as a tourist, or immerse yourself in it like a local. Get in your touristy photographs of Grant Avenue’s dragon gate and haggle your way through all the mini-malls and open-air stalls, then find fresh fish or produce and explore the tiny, hidden mom and pop stores and eateries. The food here is absolutely out of this world, delicious, fresh, and most importantly really authentic, and the shopping really will entertain you through the day. Before you go drop by the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory to try some samples of the iconic treat, or buy a bag to take home!


The San Francisco Exploratorium is a must-see for kids of all ages, and kids at heart (that means you, yes, you’re going to love this), a 21st-century learning lab full of over 600 different educational, and entertaining, official displays. Explore tons of different activities and learning experiences while here, from complicated and time-consuming educational mazes to unique and insightful total darkness experiences. This entire establishment is described as the ‘most important science museum to open in the 20th century’, and has been characterized as a ‘mad man’s penny arcade, a scientific funhouse, and experimental lab rolled into one’, two very different characterizations that make this museum so unique and fun. Outside the walls, you will enjoy a truly California typical waterfront scenic spot, and inside you and your group can also fuel up on some brain food or shop some educational souvenirs!


Golden Gate Bridge Pixabay Public Domain

Ghost Hunt Walking Tour 

Be prepared to be scared tonight as you and your group are going to be taking part in the highly popular Ghost Hunt Walking Tour. This distinctive city tour allows you to join local paranormal investigators and heads to San Francisco’s most notoriously ‘occupied’ landmarks. Walk to some of the most notoriously haunted places, hear the thrilling stories of spirits that are based on documented research, and discover the ‘weird and wonderful’ history of this spooky seaside city! Discover Pacific Heights after dark and learn the story of how this neighborhood is one of the very few to survive the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, then admire the tree-lined streets of Victorian Architecture. The entire tour will take about 90 minutes, 90 minutes in which you are likely to see orbs, feel cold spots, or even encounter an acorn-throwing spirit! CBS San Francisco calls this ‘a ghostly experience in the heart of San Francisco’, a really fun and informative after-hours tour you and your group really won’t want to miss while here! Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring layers for the perhaps chilly evening weather, also.


California Academy of Sciences

Welcome to one of the largest, most innovative, most eco-friendly, and most widely-acclaimed natural history museums in the world, the California Academy of Sciences. Re-opening its doors in 2008 after an extensive repair cycle caused by the 1989 Earthquake, this museum saw over 15,000 excited guests on opening day and has kept up a steady stream of excited visitors since then. This entire complex is a must-see, a huge thrill of exploration and discovery based on the diverse realms of science throughout the world. Tour the 400,000 square foot assemblage of fantastic wonders of Earth, Space, and Sea. This museum is also considered by many to be a ‘landmark within a landmark’, located within the historic and extremely beautiful Golden Gate Park. See a stunning and dynamic array of planetary, aquatic, and historic specimens and exhibits within this amazing venue, a really great entertainment and education addition to your fun California coastal itinerary.

Lunch at Burger Lounge

The Burger Lounge, with over 9 different city-wide locations, is a San Diego classic lunchtime treat that we know your group is going to love. This is a restaurant where you get the best of both worlds, so to speak, with all the glorious and cheesy burger delights you expect, as well as other grass-fed gourmet and healthy creations not typical of most burger joints. This is actually one of our favorite choices for ‘best in town’ dinner stops, providing some seriously tasty, and fresh, food! Try the quinoa burger, ahi burger, lounge burger, or buffalo burger, each providing so many different flavors! The buns have a hint of sweet molasses, the salads are fresh, and the shakes are, well, delicious to say the least. For convenient downtown access or take out opportunities try to take advantage of the scenic Gaslamp location (the people-watching here is amazing, too).


Perhaps the next most popular San Francisco icon after the Golden Gate Bridge is Alcatraz, the historically intriguing bay area symbol visited by millions of people worldwide annually. Many areas along with Fisherman’s Wharf claim to have the very ‘best views’ of the intimidating fortress sitting seemingly afloat in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay, making it easy to sight-see if you don’t want to actually ferry over. Often referred to as ‘The Rock’, this military fortification site was developed as such, and not as a federal penitentiary, as many people believe. In its heyday of prison-blues, however, Alcatraz did host some of the most notorious criminals in American histories, such as Al Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, and Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis. Legend has it that the island is ‘cursed’ and ‘evil’, which is something you will have to figure out for yourself as you ferry across the waters from Pier 33.


Silicon Valley

Welcome to Silicon Valley, the old railroad town in the northern part of Santa Clara County that is considered by many to be the ‘nucleus of modern computing’. This spot is home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations (Apple, HP, Facebook), as well as thousands of start-up companies. Explore any of the many local landmarks and attractions this morning, such as Apple’s Company Store and Headquarters, home of the hard drive, and even the Winchester Mystery House. You will even have a chance to check out “Bucks of Woodside, the meeting place for Silicon Valley venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Be sure to save plenty of time to learn all about the 29-year-old physicist who first co-invented the microchip and his seven other peers who went on to start their own transistor business with him in this very area. This is the very definition of the perfect ‘power lunch’ spot!

Stanford University Tour 

Stanford University is one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities first opened in 1891 in the Silicon Valley area. Stanford is located just 35 minutes south of San Francisco and 20 miles north of San Jose, a gorgeous 8,180-acre campus with the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific to the West, and expansive beautiful Bay to the East. Once here you and your group will get a 70-minute walking tour of the campus, starting out at the Stanford Visitor Center. This is your chance to join experienced student guides and explore the various numerous highlights across campus, a truly great introduction for first-timers and tourists of the area. While on this tour you will see the Main Quad, Memorial Church, School Of Humanities and Sciences, the Engineering Quad, and even the student hub known as White Plaza. Be sure to grab plenty of application info if you are genuinely interested in Stanford as a future possibility!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium is ranked as one of the absolute best aquariums in the country, a central California must-see attraction that is located at the north end of historic Cannery Row. This beautiful aquarium opens the world of marine life to thousands upon thousands of annual visitors, with both incredible displays and amazing animals. One of the most popular attractions at the aquarium is the massive 333,000 gallon, 28-foot tall tank featuring leopard sharks, red octopi, and a variety of other exotic fish. As per the name, this was the first aquarium tank to successfully grow a forest of California Giant Kelp. There is also another very impressive 1.2 million gallon saltwater tank, with a massive 90-foot viewing window, housing green sea turtles, pelagic stingrays, moon jellies, hammerhead sharks, and bluefin tuna! Enjoy the various touch pools, aquarium tours, viewing decks, and other food and shopping opportunities within!

Dinner in L.A- Grimaldi’s

Tonight you and your group will make your way down to Los Angeles, another really great city on the California Coast that you have got to see for yourself! We know you’re going to be hungry after the trip, so we think this is a great time to stop at Grimaldi’s, the Brooklyn classic that is delighting taste buds all the way on the West Coast! It’s almost like getting the taste of two major cities in one trip, the coal-fired brick oven pies with over 100 years of Brooklyn experience giving you a bite of New York, and the always-fresh ingredients, handmade mozzarella, and house-made sauce and dough giving you a new crisp taste of California. You can find these crisp crusts and perfectly baked calzones on El Segundo here in L.A, the eatery working well with larger groups looking for a late-night snack. Try the Brooklyn Bridge or Don Pizza, or perhaps just make your very own, with toppings to choose from such as artichoke hearts and anchovies, bacon or sundried tomatoes.


Hollywood Walk of Fame

Get ready to say ‘good morning’ to the stars as you and your group start your day out at the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. This 15 block sidewalk stretch holds more than 2,500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars, each one embedded in the concrete of Hollywood Boulevard, plus three blocks on Vine Street in Hollywood. This legendary memorial walkway bears the biggest names in the entertainment industry and is internationally recognized as a classic Hollywood icon. There has been a total of about 24 different induction ceremonies annually, each broadcasted to a wide range of followers around the world. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is undoubtedly a top visitor attraction for L.A, the state of California, and the United States in general, bringing in hordes of curious travelers and guests daily.

Dolby Theater Tour 

You are in for a true Hollywood treat next, as your group gets the chance to tour and explore the popular Dolby Theater. Formerly known as the Kodak Theater, this premier event location, and entertainment center is located within the Hollywood and Highland complex. While here you can enjoy the magnificent architecture and decor with a guided tour, each tour offered daily and providing guests with great behind-the-scenes information on the architecture of the building, the history of the Academy Awards and Hollywood entertainment, and a unique look into the Oscars. Discover the glamour of old Hollywood, the prestige of the Oscars, and the best audio-visual technology modern science can provide today. As mentioned before, this is the host theater for the Academy Awards, but it also hosts several other award shows, tv-series finales, and world-class musicians concerts, so you may even have a chance to attend a show within the 2,4000 plum-colored seat-filled theater!

Hand Prints outside Chinese Theater

The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is the most famous movie theater in the world, with numbers reaching the millions in guests coming here annually. Most guests are drawn to this iconic attraction by its legendary forecourt, a gorgeously designed area filled with foot and handprints of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. There is an official list of handprint ceremonies at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (or Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) onsite or online if you would like to view it and find out more about possible celebrity sightings before your visit. Each block of hand and footprints also comes with the accompanying signatures and in some cases imprints of other various objects, such as Sonja Henie’s ice skates. This is also a great place to catch a midday flick if you have time or need to give your feet a break, it is one of the best theaters in the world, after all!

Madame Tussauds 

Hollywood Madame Tussauds is a longstanding and well-known wax museum that rivals the other LA wax icon, the Hollywood Wax Museum. We think that both are a great option, though Madame Tussauds may have shorter lines. At Madame Tussauds you will get to experience over 200 years of extraordinary history and wax molding under one roof, an establishment popular worldwide to people with a ‘good old fashioned sense of curiosity’. Here you will stand next to over 125 different celebrities, 3 total floors, 13 total theme rooms, and one giant 4D theater full of stars that appeal to every generation. See Marilyn, Travolta, and Lady Gaga, as well as legends of country music, marvel heroes, monumental presidents, and even action heroes. This is your group's big moment of fame, just be sure to bring your camera! You may also choose to do boxed lunch dining, educational scavenger hunts, or educational workshops before you go!

Santa Monica Pier

It has been a rather long day in L.A, which is why we think you are really going to love your evenings last, fairly relaxing, stop at the famous Santa Monica Pier. The sheer history of this city structure is really amazing, tracing back to a decision made in 1909 to create a city sewage pipe underneath a 1,600-foot long concrete pier. While here your group can head to the Pier Shop at the bottom of the ramp to get some essential visitors information, pier history, and official apparel, or perhaps go blow off some steam at the amusement park. If you are ready for a rest just use this time to walk over the waves and admire the California coastal scenery, or perhaps opt-in for a nice sit-down meal at any of the 8 different diverse and delicious eateries onsite, such as Rusty’s Surf Ranch or Pier Burgers.


Universal Studios Hollywood

Are you ready to spend an entire day experiencing entertainment and thrill ride bliss? Well, you better be, because today you and your group are going to spend all day at the highly popular U.S theme park Universal Studios Hollywood. This is one of the world's largest filming and production studios, giving us movies like E.T, Transformers, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and Jaws, to name just a few. The theme park lets you experience the magic of those movies from the inside with many special behind-the-scenes tours, themed rides, 3D adventures, and even by meeting the characters themselves, occasionally. Being one of Hollywood’s largest studios means that guests get the absolute best entertainment tours possible, such as the all exclusive Studio Tour in the back lot of Hollywood. You can ride such fun rides as the Fast and Furious Supercharged ride, go against a 50 foot T-Rex on the Jurassic Park ride, or meet the Simpsons and ride through their hometown of Springfield. You will see Minions, animal actors, animated characters, and so much more while here.


Runyon Canyon Park 

Runyon Canyon Park is the 160 acres gorgeous ‘urban wilderness’ mid-Los Angeles, just blocks away from Hollywood Boulevard. This gorgeous inner-city park will provide your group with unbelievable city views, landmark hiking trails, and great people-watching opportunities. Located at the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains, this park is run by the Parks and Recreation Department of Los Angeles and was first acquired in 1983, giving it quite the local history. You will see rare exotic wild chaparral here, as well as views of the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and even the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island on clear days! There are three different entrances to get here, several different hiking trails, a wide fire road, and even a leash-free dog park! Be sure to bring a camera to get your iconic Hollywood Sign photo while here!

Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills

Welcome to Rodeo Drive, the two miles long street within Beverly Hills that sits near the intersections of Sunset Drive and Beverwil Drive. This street is what many people worldwide consider being the ‘intersection of luxury, fashion, and entertainment’. Rodeo Drive, the heart of Beverly Hills, provides guests with some of the best shopping, dining, and hotel destination experiences in the entire world, not to mention all the onsite flagship stores found only here. Visit the Fountain Coffee Shop, the landmark cafe restored with its original barstools and soda fountain from 1949, or the 70,000 square foot mall full of over 45 luxury stores known as the Rodeo Collection. There is also Gucci, House of Bijan, Gardens Park, the ‘Torso’, and the iconic Beverly Hills sign. Be sure to visit Two Rodeo Drive as well, the younger of the two shopping complexes within Beverly Hills with an upscale European design reminiscent of the 12 million dollar storefront of the House of Bijan!

Farmers Market and The Grove

The Grove and the L.A Farmer’s Market are two really amazing attractions that are amazingly close to each other, making it an easily doable must-stop to add to your list. This quintessential LA experience allows you to enjoy great dining, entertainment, and shopping at the Grove, as well as a gorgeous and history-filled stroll through the melting pot of cultures and cuisines within the adjacent Farmer’s Market, allowing you and your group to experience the best of both worlds, so to speak. The Grove is essentially a modern plaza-style mega-mall, and the Farmer’s Market has been a local hot spot for fresh produce and people watching for more than 80 years here in Hollywood. It is actually known to be the home of LA’s first pizza, finest meats and seafood, freshest produce, best chocolates, and most delicious handmade ice cream! Your stomach and sense of adventure will definitely thank us for this one!

Dinner in San Diego - George’s at the Cove 

Tonight, after you find your way to San Diego, you and your group will be dining at George’s at the Cove, a highly popular eatery on the La Jolla Coast. This eatery has been consistently voted as the ‘Most Popular Restaurant in San Diego’ by Zagat for years, the delicious seaside eatery featuring the famed ocean Terrace, a place where ‘life is to be enjoyed one sunset at a time’. Outdoor seating options are made only better by the year-round perfect San Diego weather, making this one of the best places to eat outdoors in this region (voted ‘best rooftop dining’). Stare out at the Pacific as you enjoy such popular items as grilled fish tacos, fresh salads, unique sandwiches, tasty pasta, and seriously fresh seafood. Be sure to try the baked pineapple crisp before you go, and check out the neighboring La Jolla Cove Gift shop!


USS Midway 

Sunny San Diego has quite the impressive historic side to it, which you and your group will find out for yourselves this morning at the USS Midway Museum. Located in historic Embarcadero, this museum reigns as the number one attraction for military and maritime history in southern California. Commissioned just a week after the end of WWII, USS Midway was the world’s largest ship until 1955 (even bigger than the Titanic!). Today the aircraft carrier remains one of the longest-serving ships in the Navy, serving a total of 47 years strong now, seeing combat in both the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. While here you will get to explore the collection of more than 29 restored aircraft, meet the Midway sailors, and even participate in one of two onsite flight simulators. It is recommended to spend three to four hours aboard the ship to really see it all (even the sleeping quarters)!

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is arguably one of the best zoos in the entire world, bringing you face to face with over 3,700 wild and beautiful creatures over an impressive 100 acres of land. Located in beautiful (and rather large) Balboa Park, this zoo boasts national acclaim for their research programs and sustainability practices, as well as more specific animal programs such as the African bush elephant program. This zoo is also the largest zoological membership in the world, steadfast with their indomitable mission to protect the animals of the earth, fight extinction, and serve the public through educational exhibits. See over 650 species or rare and endangered animals inside, many different region-themed exhibits, and various led ‘experiences’ around the park such as Early Morning with Pandas. The Safari Park is also associated with the San Diego Zoo, located just thirty miles north of downtown. Here you will find an additional 2,600 animals over 1,800 acres.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park 

Get ready to make a quick stop at the magnificently scenic Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, the set of natural cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean that are overwhelming locally loved here in San Diego. This is the best spot in the city, many argue, to get views of the rocky coast, and maybe even a few cliff divers, as well as watch the sunset over the ocean. Established as a park area in 1983, this 68-acre resource-based public is borders the western side of Point Loma, as well. Enjoy the carved coastal bluffs, arches, and sea caves while here, as well as the unbeatable panoramic views of the coast. Atop the cliffs, you will likely spot a California Grey Whale during the annual migration from the Bering Sea to Baja and back!

La Jolla Beach Sunset -Courtesy SanDiego.org

Courtesy SanDiego.org

Cabrillo National Monument

You will be ending your eight-day adventure across California’s coast at Cabrillo National Monument, the iconic tribute to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sitting at the tip of the scenic Point Loma Peninsula. Credited as the very first European to set foot on Cali’s west coast, Cabrillo’s 1542 discovery marked the origin of not only San Diego, but of California as a whole as well. Now a National Historic Landmark, the Cabrillo Monument is a legacy as a white stone statue, topped with the Spanish cross and resolute expression of looking to a brighter future in the new world. Enjoy views of the Bay, Coronado, and Tijuana, as well as views of beautiful native flora and fauna including tide pools housing barnacles, kelp, sea lettuce, periwinkles, mussels, and more. You may even catch a glimpse of a grey whale or porpoise! There is also the New and Old Point Loma Lighthouse and Visitor Center for even further activities!