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Coastal California: From Channel Islands to Hearst Castle

Program Number: 14492RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/5/2013 - 5/10/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Ventura, California
Price starting at: $799.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

With a former colleague of Jacques Cousteau, discover the Channel Islands — sometimes called the “American Galapagos” — journey up the Pacific Coast Highway, marvel at William Randolph Hearst’s palatial estate and much more on this California adventure.


• On Anacapa Island, hike a nature trail with stunning coastal views with a naturalist.
• Learn about the Central Coast from a local history professor as you journey from San Luis Obispo to Cambria.
• Gain insight into Hearst Castle, its architect Julia Morgan, and its owner W.R. Hearst.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles on Anacapa. Stairs of 150-300 steps at two sites. Boat trip is 1 hour each way. Second-floor rooms at one hotel, stairs only. No porterage available.

Travel to the islands may be cancelled due to weather conditions, in which case an alternate activity will be arranged.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Ventura, 3 nights; coach to Cambria, 2 nights; coach to Ventura, departure.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

San Simeon

San Simeon is a historic California town once frequented by the business magnate and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who built opulent Hearst Castle there. The dramatic coastline along Highway 1 nearby has a reputation as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Keep an eye out for the many elephant seals that call the area home.


A classic California beach community with surfers, art galleries, white-sand beaches and warm breezes, Ventura is situated between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara near the region's museums, historic missions and coastal wonders.

Ventura: Ventura’s only beachfront property, balconied rooms and ocean views, steps from downtown and pier. Cambria: Hotel located just minutes from Hearst Castle .
Meals and Lodgings
   Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
  Ventura, California 3 nights
   Cambria Pines Lodge
  Cambria, California 2 nights
 Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Delight in the year-round sunshine of Ventura, California with its miles of clean, uncrowded beaches, spectacular mountainous back country, and the magnificent Channel Islands National Park on the horizon. At the center of it all, right at the water's edge, stands the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel. All of its guest rooms feature magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountainous curves of the California coastline. It is ideally situated within walking distance of historic downtown Ventura where you will find the San Buenaventura Mission, museums, antique stores, a wide variety of restaurants, bookstores, cafes, clothing shops, and art galleries.
  Contact info: 450 E. Harbor Blvd.
Ventura, CA 93001 USA
phone: 805-648-2100
  Room amenities: All rooms are equipped with Crowne Plaza "Sleep Advantage" bedding; coffee maker; iron/board; hair dryer; high-speed Internet access; 27" TVs; ocean-view balconies; in-room movies. All rooms are non-smoking.
  Facility amenities: The ocean-front Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach is a 12-story tower with balcony rooms, all with ocean views. There's a great walking path next to the hotel which stretches for miles up and down the coast. Guests enjoy a host of amenities including convenient parking; restaurants with outdoor patio dining; lobby lounge with ocean-front patio seating; room service; heated ocean-front swimming pool; exercise room; and laundry & dry cleaning with same-day service as well as a coin-op laundry. Wi-Fi Access: Road Scholar participants receive complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access as part of their package. The coverage includes all hotel guest rooms and public areas. Although there is no charge for this service, a password is required. This may be obtained from the front desk staff.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Based upon availability Call Laura Moran at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel at (805) 652-5142 to make a reservation for additional nights before or after the program and to inquire about rates.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Cambria Pines Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Cambria Pines Lodge is located just off Highway One and is nestled among 25 acres of pines, set away from the crowds on the central coast of California. Enjoy the comforts of modern conveniences in a country setting. Accommodations, dining facilities and educational programs are located within a short walking distance of each other. Paths are flat and mostly paved. The hotel has a split-level floor plan with approximately 8 stairs to guestrooms and no elevators. There are a limited number of rooms with ramp access. Please contact the program provider as soon as possible if you require such a room.
  Contact info: 2905 Burton Drive
Cambria, CA 93428 USA
phone: 805-927-4200
  Room amenities: Amenities include satellite TV with on-demand movies, free wireless Internet, telephone with programmable wake-up call and voice mail, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, and AM/FM radio alarm clock.
  Facility amenities: The Main Lodge offers an excellent restaurant featuring local wines and the Fireside Lounge (with nightly live entertainment). The certified organic kitchen garden provides home grown organic produce to the restaurant at Cambria Pines Lodge, while other areas of the theme gardens offer spectacular landscaping. Other amenities include room service between 5:00 and 8:45 PM, a gift shop and an outdoor pool and spa. Cambria Pines Lodge offers extensive grounds and gardens. Guests may enjoy the many fountains located throughout the property or a stroll through the woods to Cambria Village or Cambria Nursery and Florist, where many of the plants found in the gardens are available for purchase. The hotel provides dry cleaning and laundry services at a charge. The Lodge is a non-smoking facility with smoking allowed outdoors only. WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS: The Lodge provides free wireless and wired Internet access in all guest rooms. Wi-Fi access is available in some public areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after:  This is a moving program, so additional nights are excluded.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program registration is between 3:30-5:00 PM on Sunday in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes when the motor coach returns to Crowne Plaza at approx 11AM, depending upon traffic. Allow adequate travel time from Ventura to the airport. You will be staying at Cambria Pines Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. On the enclosed Participant Information Form, please indicate to us the name of your roommate/traveling companion. Also let us know if you are traveling with other individuals and wish to be assigned a room near them. Photo ID
  Parking availability:
Complimentary parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Crowne Plaza, but the parking pass needs to be validated by the front desk.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ventura, California
  Nearest city or town:  Santa Barbara, California
  Nearest highway: Hwy 101 passes through Ventura
  Nearest airport:  Los Angeles International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Ventura, California
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Los Angeles/LAX to Ventura, CA


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Ventura Co. Airporter Shuttle
phone: 805-650-6600
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$35 P/P to drop-off point in Ventura; then taxi to Crowne Plaza @about $14
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1 hr 15 min to drop-off point + taxi ride (additional 15-20 min for wait time and ride) 




71 miles from LAX to Crowne Plaza-Ventura Beach


VCA Shuttle offers 8 daily trips to/from LAX and Ventura at a great price p/p. However, it drops off passengers at the Holiday Inn Express at Ventura Harbor, 3.5 miles from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. From the drop-off point you need to call a taxi to get a ride to the Crowne Plaza. Call Yellow Taxi Cab at 805-659-6900 at $14 per ride. ALL PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. VCA Shuttle website:


Los Angeles/LAX to Crowne Plaza-Ventura


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$71 for 1st person one-way; $9 each additional person; or $40 each
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1 hr 20 min depending on traffic 




71 miles from LAX to the Crowne Plaza-Ventura Beach


SuperShuttle offers dooor-to-door shared van service from the airport to your destinaiton. Call for current rates and to arrange pick-up time. Advance reservations are required. Price is subject to change. Website: for online reservations and exact fares On Arrival at LAX: Claim your luggage, proceed outside & look for the shared ride van sign on the inside curb just outside of Baggage Claim. ALTERNATE VAN SERVICE FROM LAX: Call PrimeTime Shuttle at (800) 733-8267.


Santa Barbara/ SBA to Ventura


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Road Runner Shuttle
phone: 800-247-7919
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$73 per person one-way
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


40-45 min from Santa Barbara Airport to the Crowne Plaza-Ventura Beach 




38 miles from Santa Barbara Airport to the Crowne Plaza-Ventura Beach


Call for current rates as prices are subject to changewithout notice. Website: Roadrunner Shuttle local phone: 805-389-8196 Santa Barbara Airport website: Santa Barbara Airport Info Phone: 805-683-4011 *** Rental cars are also available at SB Airport


Ventura/ Amtrak Station


From Train Station




Yellow Cab
phone: 805-659-6900


Per Person/One Way:


Minimum fare of $10 per ride one-way will be charged
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Under 2 minutes 




Amtrak Station is 0.2 miles from hotel


Amtrak (1-800-872-7245) provides transportation service to Ventura via the Pacific Surfliner route. The covered Amtrak platform is located outside Seaside Park (Ventura County Fairgrounds) at 20 W. Harbor Blvd. near Figueroa St. You may walk 4 blocks from the station to the hotel, or call a taxi. Amtrak website:

Driving Directions
  Northbound Highway 101 Going North on Hwy 101, take the California St. exit. Turn left onto California St. at the top of the exit ramp. Turn right onto Harbor Blvd. then left into the hotel parking lot.
  Southbound Highway 101 Going South on Hwy 101, take the Ventura Ave. exit. Turn right on Thompson Blvd. and continue for approximately 4 blocks to California St. Turn right on California St. and go over the freeway to Harbor Blvd. The Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach hotel will be directly ahead. Turn right onto Harbor Blvd., then left into the hotel parking lot.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent Arrivals
(Sunday, May 5)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Check into Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel after 4:00pm.

PROGRAM REGISTRATION: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and pick up your arrival packet which we'll review during our orientation session before dinner.

ORIENTATION: Begins before dinner. We'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, any other administrative issues, and answer your questions. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

 Dinner: Dinner at hotel

Menus are contracted for the program and are designed to offer balanced, healthy meals for the participants.

 Evening: CROSSING POINTS: Participants introduce themselves to the rest of the group.

Enjoy the remainder of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Introductory lectures to Channel Islands National Park
(Monday, May 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: CLASS: The Chumash Nation

This presentation offers insight into the native life of the Chumash Indians of California.

CLASS: Introduction to Channel Islands National Park and Boat Trip Orientation

What do we bring? What do we wear? What will we see on our Anacapa adventure? All of these questions will be answered during our powerpoint introduction to the Channel Islands National Park.

 Lunch: Lunch at hotel
 Afternoon: CLASS: Marine Life

The Channel Islands National Park extends 1 mile around each island, protecting and supporting a multitude of marine organisms. The instructor, an expert scuba diver, shares her underwater experiences and knowledge about the marine environment through an entertaining powerpoint presentation.

 Dinner: Dinner at hotel
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Boat trip to Anacapa Island
(Tuesday, May 7)

Note: Travel to Anacapa Island by boat, weather permitting. The duration of the boat trip will be approximately one hour, one-way. Be prepared to climb 153 steps to the island's plateau where spectacular panoramic views and nearly 2 miles of nature trails await. The trip includes a one-mile guided walk with a naturalist on Anacapa Island.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: All day boat trip to Anacapa Island

Twelve miles from the mainland, a five-mile-long spine of rock emerges from the ocean, breaks into three islets, and offers itself as home to 265 species of plants and a bevy of seabirds - with the largest brown pelican rookery on the Pacific Coast. On charts, the island of 737 acres appears as East, Middle, and West Anapaca. The Chumash called it Anyapakh or "mirage". It was anything but a mirage on the night of December 2, 1853, when the sidewheel steamer Winfield Scott, running at full speed, crashed into rocks off Middle Anacapa and sank. The Coast Guard built a light beacon in 1912 and a light station in 1932.

The group will enjoy a guided nature walk on Anacapa Island.

 Lunch: Bag lunch on island
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel
 Evening: PERFORMANCE: Theater Sports: A group of improvisational actors
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Bus from Ventura to Cambria/Santa Barbara Courthouse guided visit
(Wednesday, May 8)

Note: Santa Barbara Courthouse guided walk involves walking/standing for about one hour.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: The bus travels from Ventura to Cambria with a stop in Santa Barbara.

Docent guided visit of the Santa Barbara Courthouse--the jewel in Santa Barbara's architectural crown. A bonus is the must-see view of the city from the top of the 85 foot clock tower.

 Lunch: Lunch at San Luis Obispo restaurant
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP CONTINUES AFTER LUNCH: Our on-board instructor gives an historical overview of the area from San Luis Obispo to Cambria.
 Dinner: Dinner at Cambria Pines Lodge
 Evening: CLASS: The Elephant Seals of Piedras Blancas

This evening program is presented by The Friends of the Elephant Seal who support the seal rookery at Piedras Blancas. The site is located by California Highway 1 at the southern end of Big Sur on the California coast, just four miles north of the entrance to the Hearst Castle. The location is ideal for the seals. It is protected by the Piedras Blancas Point from storms from the northwest; it has wide, sandy beaches offering pups protection from high water; and it is protected from predators by a kelp forest.

Accommodations: Cambria Pines Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Guided visit of Hearst Castle/Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony
(Thursday, May 9)

Note: The Grand Rooms guided walk at Hearst Castle consists of approximately 106 stairs (up and down) and is about 2/3 mile in length. The tour duration is 45 minutes with a considerable amount of standing and no opportunity to sit or rest. At the end of the guided portion, stroll on your own through the gardens and wander at your leisure around the Neptune Pool. The visit to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony requires walking on a boardwalk.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Cambria Pines Lodge

Learn more about William Randolph Hearst in "Hearst Castle-Building the Dream," a 40 min, large format, National Geographic Movie at the Visitor Center.

The William Randolph Hearst exhibit located in the Visitor Center offers guests an insightful look into the Castle, its architect Julia Morgan, and its owner W.R. Hearst.

On the Grand Rooms Museum Tour travel back in time and experience what it was like to be a guest at The Enchanted Hill, known today as Hearst Castle, one of California's top attractions.

In Casa Grande, the main house, four rooms on the ground floor are shown starting with the Assembly Room, largest of the 14 sitting rooms and once the gathering place for Hearst's guests. Next, you will visit the Refectory, the only dining room on the Enchanted Hill, and then the Billiard Room, a game room featuring two 1920s era billiard tables and including the Gothic mille fleurs tapestry. The final stop is the Theater, the largest room in Casa Grande.

At the end of the guided portion of your tour, stroll on your own through the gardens and wander at your leisure around the Neptune Pool, a Greco-Roman style outdoor pool, and the Roman Pool, an indoor pool lined with blue Venetian glass and gold tiles.

The group will ride a bus from the Visitors Center to Hearst Castle, roundtrip.


Visit Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony, the year round home of one of California's largest populations of elephant seals.

 Lunch: Lunch on your own at the Visitor Center Snack Bar which offers hot and cold meals from hamburgers & fries to salad, soup, and sandwiches. Vegetarian entrees, including veggie wraps and garden burgers, are available.
 Dinner: Dinner at Cambria Pines Lodge
Accommodations: Cambria Pines Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Bus returns to Ventura
(Friday, May 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Cambria Pines Lodge


The group departs Cambria via motorcoach for Ventura. Our program concludes when the bus returns to Ventura at approximately 11AM, depending upon traffic.

 Morning: We hope you have enjoyed our Channel Islands to Hearst Castle program and will join us for other rewarding programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Ventura, California General Overview
Ventura offers a variety of recreational opportunities such as beach walks, biking and hiking trails, bird watching, camping, golf, sport fishing, water activities and whale watching. The Crowne Plaza Hotel is situated next to the beach and an oceanside boardwalk that stretches for many miles. Some trail heads are within walking distance of the hotel.
  Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau
101 S. California St.

Ventura, CA 93001

Phone: 805-648-2075, or 800-483-6214 For additional information, visit

  Museum of Ventura County
100 E. Main St.

Ventura, CA 93001

Phone: 805-653-0323

The Museum has a permanent exhibit that explores the community's past from the Chumash era through the 21st century. The collection of artifacts and displays focuses on native Americans, Spanish and Mexican pioneers, and European and Yankee settlers. Especially notable are the George Stuart Historical figures, a collection of intricately carved figures from history that are dressed in elaborate period costumes. Open Tues-Sun, from 11:00AM to 5:00PM. Senior admission is $3. Call the Museum for further information or visit their website. For additional information, visit

Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Hearst's San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land

Author: Victoria Kastner (author) and Victoria Garagliano (photographer)

Description: This new book explores the luxuriant gardens and pristine coastline surrounding Hearst Castle. Discover how Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst designed the landscape and what famous visitors thought about “the ranch" through stunning color photographs, historic photographs, and original drawings. 240 pages. (Hard cover)

The Hearsts - An American Dynasty

Author: Judith Robinson

Description: Based on previously unpublished letters and memoranda, The Hearsts is an intimate and compelling portrait of a family who influenced the destiny of their nation and epitomized the American Dream. (Soft cover)

Channel Islands National Park

Author: Susan Lamb (Author) & George H. H. Huey (Photographer)

Description: The five remarkable islands of Channel Islands National Park preserve a part of California many visitors thought had long vanished. This isolated maritime sanctuary of natural and human history is a short boat ride from the urban cities of Southern California. The environment provides a serene habitat for many species of birds, marine mammals, wildlife, and plants - plus archeological sites that mark nearly 13,000 years of human presence.

Santa Barbara Sunset: Montecito Moon

Author: Lori M. Geraghty (Author), John Wardlaw (Author), John Molony (Photographer)

Description: A collection of beautiful images of the Santa Barbara area at sunset and at night under moonlight. The author adds inspirational words to go along with each photo. Hardback book with high quality printing to bring out the best photo quality.

The Rock Paintings of The Chumash: A Study of a California Indian Culture

Author: Campbell Grant

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