20120
California

On the Road: California’s Pacific Coast Highway & Yosemite

From Los Angeles to San Francisco, discover rugged coastlines, Yosemite National Park, historic missions and unique art collections as you journey the legendary Pacific Coast Highway.
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Program No. 20120RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
3,499
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11 days
10 nights
22 meals
10 B 6 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Los Angeles, CA
D
The Westin Los Angeles Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:30 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions at orientation. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. This is a Road Scholar On The Road (OTR) program. OTR journeys take participants to multiple study sites in a region with a number of overnight stays. Lectures, talks, discussions, field trips, and on-board commentary amplify the program theme. Some journeys involve great distances and may take hours, others are much shorter. Long or short, On the Road journeys are learning experiences that make the most of our time together. We will be on the road each day with access to our rooms at the beginning and end of the day. Unless noted otherwise, program-related transportation will be via private motorcoach. Some meals will be selected in advance. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
2
Getty Villa Lecture & Field Trip, Transfer to Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
B,D
Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 81 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking at Getty Villa according to personal interest. Walking 2-3 blocks in Santa Barbara from hotel to dinner location.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers variety of choices including hot and cold dishes plus milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert for a presentation providing an overview of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Villa. The J. Paul Getty Trust is one of the premier organizations in the art world with two locations in California. Many people from around the world travel to the Getty Center to do research and view their exhibits. After checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and travel to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. Oil magnate J. Paul Getty used some of his vast wealth to amass an incredible art and antiquities collection, first displayed in his ranch house on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. In the early 70s, he had a Romanesque villa constructed next to his house to be a permanent museum for his collection. The Malibu villa, modeled after the partially excavated Villa dei Papiri in Italy, became the home of the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1974. In 1997 the Getty Villa was closed and the collection was relocated to the new hilltop Getty Center in Brentwood (Los Angeles). After a nine-year, $275 million renovation and expansion, the Getty Villa re-opened as a home to the Museum’s Antiquities Collection. The Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities are arranged by themes including gods and goddesses, Dionysos and the theater, and stories of the Trojan War, housed within Roman-inspired architecture and surrounded by Roman-style gardens. For our self-directed field trip, pick up a copy of “Today at the Getty Villa” in the Entry Pavilion. It lists what’s on display and any scheduled events for the day. Getty Guide audio players are available free of charge at the Pick-Up Desk on Floor 1 of the Museum with a valid photo ID. The player features commentary from curators and conservators on more than 150 works from the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa. For more information, visit https://www.getty.edu/visit/villa/.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like at Getty Villa. The Café serves casual Mediterranean-inspired fare and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. An Espresso Cart near the Café serves coffee and espresso drinks as well as sandwiches and snacks.

Afternoon: We will regroup at a designated time and, re-board our motorcoach, and travel by way of the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara, often called the American Riviera. We will be driving along what was once a dirt road that was finally paved by the end of the 1920s. It continues to be a classic road trip up the California coast. We expect to arrive at our hotel and check in late afternoon, with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner. We will gather in front of the hotel at a designated time and walk to dinner together.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to walk along the Santa Barbara beach and Stearns Wharf or stroll up State Street just steps from our hotel.

DAY
3
Santa Barbara Mission & Courthouse, Free Time
Santa Barbara, CA
B,L
Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 5 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 1 mile; uneven terrain at Santa Barbara Mission. Courthouse tower accessible by elevator and stairs.

Breakfast: In the breakfast room off the hotel lobby, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet with variety of hot and cold dishes plus milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and set out on a field trip to the Santa Barbara Mission where a docent will lead our exploration. Founded in 1786, this was the tenth of the missions to be built in California. It is called the “Queen of the Missions” for its beautiful hilltop setting and majestic views. Next, we will ride to the Santa Barbara Courthouse for another docent-led exploration. The Courthouse is the jewel in Santa Barbara’s architectural crown, on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark. Completed just four months before the U.S. stock market crash of 1929, the building looks as if it belongs in southern Spain with its Spanish-Moorish architecture and surrounding sunken garden. The top of the 85-foot clock tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding city and the mountains. Depending on available time, those who wish to go to the top are welcome to do so by elevator and/or stairs.

Lunch: At a favorite local restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara, we’ll have a sandwich with side salad, dessert and beverage choices of soft drink, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in downtown Santa Barbara. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You might like to visit Stearn’s Wharf with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center; the Santa Barbara Harbor with the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum; and the historic Granada and Arlington Theaters. For those who wish to return to the hotel, it’s a walk of less than a mile; or, take a downtown shuttle to get closer to the hotel for less than $1 per ride.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Wine Making, Lavender Farm, Morro Bay
Cambria, California
B,L,D
Cambria Pines Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 130 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking up to 1 mile; uneven terrain in Santa Ynez.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel and boarding the motorcoach, we’ll be joined by a wine expert who will share knowledge while we ride about the wine-making process and the expanding Santa Barbara wine region. We will travel into the chaparral hills of southern California which make a great climate for vineyards. Wine has been a part of the Santa Barbara area since the 1800s and continues to grow with over 200 vineyards in Santa Barbara County. We’ll ride to Los Olivos for a field trip to explore the family owned and operated Clairmont Lavender Farm. In a setting surrounded by the Santa Ynez Mountains and 300-year-old oak trees, we’ll meet a member of the family who will tell us about the many uses of this fascinating and fragrant herb that engages our senses. We’ll also learn about the entirely organic enterprise where the lavender is harvested by hand and processed by traditional methods. We’ll then ride on to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At one of the original Santa Ynez Valley vineyards, we’ll have box lunches with choices we made previously with a complimentary wine tasting.

Afternoon: We will continue riding north to Morro Bay and San Simeon to meet a local expert who will provide an overview of the California coast’s unique ecosystems. At Morro Bay, we’ll keep an eye out for otters that are frequently in residence. We’ll also explore one of the last intact estuaries that exists between central California and Mexico. As we walk along the elevated boardwalk through the estuary, we’ll see many birds and plants. If we’re lucky, we may observe marine mammals such as harbor seals and California sea lions. We will continue our natural history exploration as we observe the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony. These magnificent marine mammals spend eight to ten months at sea. They arrive here to breed, give birth, and rest. Pups are usually born at night. Due to commercial harvesting, they were thought extinct by 1892 but a tiny remnant survived and recolonized on a few mainland beaches. Elephant Seals started to show up on the beaches near Big Sur by 1982 and at the Point Piedras Blancas area in 1991. Their population has been growing ever since. Seals are on the beach year-round but their activities are attuned to the time of year.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with salad, entrée, dessert, coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a lecture on Julia Morgan, one of America’s most important and prolific architects. She was the first woman to study architecture at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman to work as a professional architect in California. During her 45-year career, Morgan designed more than 700 homes, churches, educational structures, office buildings, hospitals, and stores. She is best known for San Simeon, the home of William Randolph Hearst — today called Hearst Castle. She designed virtually everything, supervised construction, and worked closely with Hearst to integrate his enormous art collection into the buildings and grounds. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Hearst Castle Field Trip, Transfer to Monterey
Monterey
B,L,D
Monterey Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 110 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking about 2/3 of a mile; climbing approximately 159 steps; standing during 45-minute docent-led exploration; limited seating available.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, sausage, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and board the motorcoach for a field trip to Hearst Castle. It’s a 5-mile ride up the hill from the Visitor Center to the big house! A docent will lead our exploration. We’ll begin at the main house — Casa Grande — starting with the Assembly Room, largest of the 14 sitting rooms and once the gathering place for Hearst’s guests. We’ll see the Refectory, the estate’s only dining room, where mustard and ketchup bottles were interspersed among silver candlesticks. The Billiard Room contains two 1920s era billiard tables, a 15th century Spanish ceiling, and a Renaissance tapestry, examples of Hearst’s prolific art collecting. We’ll also see the theater that showed movies produced by Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Studios, many of which starred his long-time companion, Marion Davies. We’ll then have some independent time to see what interests each of us at our own pace. You might like to stroll through the extensive gardens, wander around the fantastic outdoor Neptune Pool in Greco-Roman style, and the indoor Roman Pool modeled after the ancient Roman baths with blue Venetian glass and gold tiles. Back aboard the motorcoach, we’ll ride to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At a restaurant with a coastal ambiance, we’ll have plated meals with the entrées we selected previously plus beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue our ride to Monterey along the Pacific Coast Highway with its scenic views of the California coast and Pacific Ocean. We expect to check in to our hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with the entrées we selected previously plus beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Monterey Aquarium, Monterey Peninsula
Monterey
B
Monterey Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 25 miles, approximately 1.5 hours (at slow pace). Extent of walking at Monterey Aquarium according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet choices such as hard-boiled eggs (by request), oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll set out on a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located on the bay along historic Cannery Row, immortalized by Pulitzer Prize winning author John Steinbeck. Since opening in 1984, the Aquarium has become a leader in ocean conservation through its exhibits, education, research, and conservation programs. It provides literal and figurative insights into the habitats and sea life of one of the world’s richest marine regions. There are 34 major galleries with nearly 200 exhibits showcasing more than 35,000 creatures representing more than 550 species. During this self-directed exploration, we will be able to view the exhibits and attend the activities of our choice, all included with our Aquarium admission. The program schedule is subject to change; check with the information desk for current times.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. The Aquarium has a full service restaurant, a café for casual dining, and a coffee bar that also serves pastries and desserts.

Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, we’ll hear from a naturalist and historian who will acquaint us with the Monterey Peninsula and Monterey itself, one of the most historic cities in California. We’ll learn as we ride about “New Monterey” or Cannery Row, an area immortalized by John Steinbeck; Pacific Grove, the butterfly capital of the world; Pebble Beach’s famous 17 Mile Drive; and charming Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a walk downtown or along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Transfer to Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, CA
B,L,D
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 4 hours. Walking 2-3 miles roundtrip; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out, board the motorcoach, and be on our way to Yosemite National Park.

Lunch: At a restaurant near Yosemite National Park.

Afternoon: We will ride to the main Yosemite parking lot, then take a park shuttle to the trailhead. From there, we will walk in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias that contains about 500 mature giant sequoias. Giant sequoias are perhaps the largest living things on Earth and some may be more than 3,000 years old. From the National Park Service: “The national park idea is rooted in the Mariposa Grove. In 1864 President Lincoln signed legislation protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley for ‘public use, resort, and recreation.’ This landmark legislation holds an important place in our country's history and was enacted at a time when the nation was embroiled in the Civil War. For the first time in our nation's history, the federal government set aside scenic natural areas to be protected for the benefit of future generations.” The grove was closed for a large-scale restoration project in 2015 and reopened in 2018. Today, with multitudes of people from around the world eager to visit here, crowds are monitored. Be prepared to share the experience with other arboreal enthusiasts who may be craning their necks to see the sequoias for the first time. Everyone is advised to avoid damaging sequoia saplings. Riding on, we’ll drive into Yosemite Valley and check in to our accommodations late afternoon.

Dinner: At the lodge food court, we’ll have coupons provided to purchase what we like, from hot and cold entrées to pasta, grilled items, pizzas, sandwiches, salads, milk, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Full Day Yosemite National Park Field Trip
Yosemite, CA
B,L
Yosemite Valley Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 3 hours including stops along the way. Walking approximately 2 miles during the day: 150 feet into El Capitan Meadow, dirt path, generally flat terrain; 1 mile roundtrip to/from base of Bridalveil Fall, steep trail, uneven terrain; Loop at Lower Yosemite Falls about 1 mile roundtrip, flat, paved.

Breakfast: In the lodge dining room, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes, French toast or waffles, hot and cold cereals, fruit salad, an assortment of muffins and baked goods, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and a local expert and naturalist who will provide commentary during our field trip through Yosemite Valley, world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs, and unusual rock formations. We’ll stop first at El Capitan Meadow for a clear view of El Capitan, a favorite for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. Our next stop will be Bridalveil Fall. At more than 600 feet tall, it is one of the most prominent waterfalls in Yosemite. Some Native American tribes believe it to be the home to a vengeful spirit and that those who look directly into the waterfall will be cursed. In the central valley, we’ll visit the Sentinel Bridge and Cook’s Meadow area. Sentinel Bridge is famed for its upstream view of the Half Dome. As we walk through Cook’s Meadow, we’ll have views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. The meadow is named after John J. Cook, who owned a hotel in Yosemite Valley in the 1880s and often grazed cattle there. We’ll ride to the Ahwahnee Hotel after our field trip.

Lunch: At the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with salad, entrée, dessert, milk, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. The landmark dining room has high beamed ceilings, granite pillars, and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls.

Afternoon: We’ll walk outside for a talk about The Ahwahnee Hotel that dates from 1927. Known for its magnificent façade and architecture, this hotel was designed to complement its natural surroundings. Next, we’ll take the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus to Lower Yosemite Fall. Starting from the trailhead, we’ll walk the path with our naturalist. At the conclusion of the field trip, the Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the hotel. Those who would like to stay out and return independently are welcome to do so.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. Dining choices can be found in the “Yosemite Guide” park newspaper published several times a year and available on line at www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/.

Evening: At leisure. There are many opportunities to enjoy the park after dark on your own. Use the “Yosemite Guide” to find out what programs are being offered, programs offered by the National Park are free of charge. See www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm. Activities at the Yosemite Theater require a ticket that can be purchased the day of at the visitor center bookstore or on-line at https://yosemite.org/experience/theater/. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Transfer to San Francisco, City Field Trip
San Francisco, California
B,L
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 185 miles, approximately 4 hours. In San Francisco, driving route will depend on arrival time and traffic conditions.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out and depart Yosemite for San Francisco.

Lunch: At an eatery en route, we’ll have a plated meal with entrée, dessert, coffee, tea (iced/hot), water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in San Francisco, we’ll be joined by a local San Francisco expert who will provide an introduction and overview of its highlights while we drive through the city. (The route will depend on arrival time and traffic conditions.) We expect to see the Civic Center and renowned City Hall, the Asian Art Museum, Opera House, Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We also plan to drive through the Presidio and check in to our hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. San Francisco is known for its culinary delights. A wide variety of food choices are available with walking distance of our hotel. If you have something special in mind, we recommend making reservations in advance.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Alcatraz Island, Free Time, Farewell Dinner
San Francisco, California
B,D
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Taking public transportation; getting on/off ferry from San Francisco dock to Alcatraz Island. Walking up to 1/4 mile on Alcatraz; steep, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes beverage choices of milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will take public transportation from the hotel to Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing, then take the ferry to Alcatraz Island. The history of Alcatraz is much more fascinating and complex than the name it gave to America’s infamous Federal penitentiary. Early native people never settled there because they considered it cursed. Native American activists who occupied it in November 1969 held out for 19 months. Today, it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and hosts vast numbers of seabirds as well as multitudes of visitors who want to see the former prison that opened to the public in 1973. Contemporary American Indians return each November for commemorative ceremonies. Upon arrival at the Alcatraz dock for our field trip, we will be greeted by a National Park Service ranger who will give a brief introduction including information on any special activities available that day. The remainder of this field trip will be a self-directed field trip to see and do what interests each of us most at our own pace. Park Service staff offer talks throughout the day on topics such as escapes, military history, American Indian occupation, natural history, and more. There are numerous exhibits including the cell house covering the penitentiary era with personal audio devices. There are several ferries to return to the mainland independently depending on personal choice.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. San Francisco has something for everyone. For ideas of what to see and do, please see the Free Time Opportunities section of the information packet. We’ll rendezvous at a designated time and place and go to dinner together with our Group Leader.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of a glass of wine, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
11
Program Concludes
San Francisco, California
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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