Cycling The Vineyards Of California Trip Notes

  • Trip code : EMAA
  • Trip length : 13 Days
  • Trip starts in : Healdsburg
  • Trip ends in : Los Angeles
  • Maximum group size :16
  • Ages : 16+
  • Meals : All breakfasts, 10 lunches
  • Accommodation : 12 nights in hotels and lodges with en suite facilities
  • Transport : Bike - you can either bring your own or hire them (Local bike hire (GBP220 paid on booking). Vechicle Suupport 100%



  • Cycle route takes us through the heart of Napa Valley - California's most famous wine region!
  • Ride along the coastline on vast stretches of Coastal Highway 1 - cliffs, waterfalls and marine widlife
  • Cyle into San Francisco via the iconic Golden Gate Bridge
  • The famous 17 Mile Drive - a scenic road along the Monterey Peninsula


The ultimate US road trip, by bike! This iconic ride takes us through the rolling hills of world renowned wine estates in Napa Valley, alongside towering Redwood trees and across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our route follows Coastal Highway 1 as it twists its way around rocky headlands, crashing waves stirring the numerous Elephant seal colonies that scatter the beaches below. Out of the saddle we explore the many incredible state parks, isolated beaches and prestigious wineries for which the region is so highly regarded, as well as re-fuelling on fine Californian cuisine.




San Francisco or Healdsburg

Following a short trip briefing this evening, it's time to get some rest before our first day of cycling tomorrow.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Napa Valley

After breakfast we transfer to Napa Valley where we'll spend some time getting fitted with bikes and other equipment. Our cycle route takes us into the heart of Napa Valley, one of California's finest wine making regions. In Napa there are over 400 acclaimed wineries, many of which are family owned and run. Our view from the saddle will be dominated by rolling hills carpeted with vineyards, usually under a sunny California sky! The Napa Valley vineyards produce some of the finest wine in the USA, including varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We join the Silverado Trail, a scenic route along the eastern side of Napa that compromises more than 40 wine estates. We'll stop en route for a picnic and there's an optional visit to a winery for those that would like to sample some of Napa's acclaimed products!

Transfer approx. 90km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Alexander Valley

The beautiful vineyards of Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley surround charming Healdsburg, our overnight location, and so it's from here that we set off this morning to explore the countryside surrounding the valleys. We are likely to see many different types of tree, from towering Redwood to oaks, palm and even cactus on this round-trip along the valley roads. Returning to Healdsburg in the afternoon, there will be some time to explore the pretty town.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Russian River

We transfer from Healdsburg to Russian River where today's cycling begins. The river flows from the heart of California's wine country out to the Pacific coast. Following the bends of the river, we'll take in the vast scenery - much of this area was covered in forest before logging began in the 19th Century. There's an optional 10km cycle detour in order to visit Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve, where we can walk in the shadow of California's mighty Redwood trees. By far the tallest living trees on the planet, Redwood's grow up to 80 metres high, with a lifespan of 500 - 1000 years! Back along the river, our route takes us through Sonoma Coast State Park where the salty coastal region beckons as we join our first stretch of Costal Highway 1 - California's most scenic road. Today's final destination is Bodega Bay, a pretty coastal town on a rocky inlet. We will stay overnight in nearby Occidental.

Transfer approx. 10km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Point Reyes National Seashore

We transfer to Tomales where we start our ride following Highway 1 along Tomales Bay to Point Reyes National Seashore. This vast area juts out into the Pacific Ocean and is characterised by rocky headlands, expansive grasslands and windswept beaches. Marine wildlife such as sea lions and Elephant seals thrive in this protected habitat. Migratory birds are also attracted to the area and Grey whales pass by on their annual migration. We spend as much of the day as possible exploring the park and learning about its unique history. Our overnight stop will be in the Inverness area which looks onto Tomales Bay.

Transfer approx. 25km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



San Francisco

Today's ride takes us from Point Reyes back to Coastal Highway 1, through Samuel Taylor State Park and past Muir Beach and the Muir Woods National Monument where we'll stop for a short walk. Scottish born John Muir, who the Muir Woods area has been named after, was one of the earliest pioneers for ecology, conservation and land protection. Returning to Highway 1 we will pass through the small town of Sausalito, overlooking Richardson Bay. The day ends with one of the most iconic rides of this trip as we enter San Francisco from the north by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



San Francisco to Monterey Peninsula

We spend this morning getting to know San Francisco by visiting Union Square, North Beach, Russian Hill, Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. San Francisco is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque cities in North America. At just 7 miles long, it is a densely populated city, with 43 steep hills overlooking a calm bay and golden beaches. We'll explore the city by foot and minibus, rather than navigating the hills on our bikes! In the middle of the afternoon we'll transfer to our next destination, the Monterey Peninsula. We stay in nearby Salinas.

Transfer approx. 185km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Big Sur

Our day starts on the famous 17 Mile Drive, a scenic route along the edge of the Monterey Peninsula that passes through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, with scenic viewpoints along the coastline of the rocky headlands below. Back on Highway 1 we cycle one of the most beautiful sections of the famous road, which curves around the cliffs as waves crash onto the shore below. En route we'll stop at Point Lobos State Reserve where seals, sea lions, sea otters and thousands of sea birds reside. Point Lobos was once described as 'the greatest meeting of land and water in the world' by landscape artist Francis McComas. Our accommodation tonight is in a wonderful country lodge in Big Sur, within the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park - enjoy a short walk through the Redwoods at the end of the day!

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Santa Maria via Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Cycling directly from our accommodation we re-join Highway 1 for another incredibly scenic section of road that passes straight through the Big Sur region. We reach Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named after a well-respected pioneer, where we'll join a trail to McWay Falls. This is the only major waterfall in California that empties straight onto a beach by the Pacific Ocean, and was once a favourite viewpoint of Julia Pfeiffer Burns. The McWay Falls is now one of the most photographed sights in Big Sur. Back on bikes our ride continues to San Simeon, a small town surrounded by the history of Hearst Castle. Built for the famous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, the hilltop castle is now a State Historical Monument. For those that would like to visit the castle (optional extra), it's possible to miss the end part of today's cycling (around 20km) in order to fit this in before the group transfer to Santa Maria.

Transfer approx. 125km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Santa Maria Valley

Our cycle route takes us through the wine region of Santa Maria Valley, famous for its varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah which are made possible thanks to the temperate coastal climate found in the region. On our bikes we pass a number of vineyards as we make our way towards Los Olivos, a charming, historic village. There is the opportunity to visit a winery this afternoon for a tasting tour (optional extra). At the end of the day, we'll transfer back to Santa Maria by bus.

Transfer approx. 50km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge




This morning we transfer to the city of Santa Barbara, known as the American Riviera for its Mediterranean climate. Just outside Santa Barbara we'll start our cycle route, passing coastal villages and then the rolling farmland and orchards outside of Carpinteria. The route starts to climb 350 metres over the Casitas Pass. Our reward is the wonderful view of Lake Casitas from the top and then a great ride downhill towards the lake. We'll take the River Bike Trail back towards Ventura, an affluent beach town typical of California.

Transfer approx. 105km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Santa Monica

There are various optional excursions to join this morning in the Channel Islands National Park. The park consists of 8 islands off the coast of Southern California, some 14 miles out to sea. A 3 hour excursion focusing on wildlife can be taken around Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, where it's usually possible to see seals, sea lions and birds. Alternatively, join a 3 hour whale watching excursion, where guides specifically look for whales and dolphins - it's possible to see Orca and Minke whales throughout the year, whereas Humpback and Blue whales only enter the area between June to September. Many species of dolphin are likely to be encountered! In the afternoon we ride towards Santa Monica on the western edge of Los Angeles, before transferring to our hotel.

Transfer approx. 45km.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



Los Angeles

Explore further as you are free to leave at any time today.

Accommodation: Hotel or lodge



  • All breakfasts, 10 lunches
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Entrance fees to all national and state parks which are part of the itinerary are included in the tour cost.



  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation - please ask for a quote
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • All other meals not stated above
  • Flights
  • Pre & post tour accommodation
  • Local bike hire (GBP220 paid on booking)


optional-extrasThere are several opportunities for optional activities during this tour, as follows:

  • Wine tasting in Napa Valley: US$25 per person
  • Hearst Castle tour: US$25 per person
  • Wine tasting in Santa Maria Valley: US$10-25
  • Channel Islands National Park, whale watching: US$75 per person
  • Channel Islands National Park, wildlife cruise: US$35 per person




For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for an fun, informative experience.

Style Facts

  • Comfortable tourist class hotels
  • Family Homestays
  • Private and local transport
  • More inclusions than Basic tours
  • Fully trained and experienced leaders


Explore the world on two feet - or two wheels! Our active trips range from classic treks & trips where walking forms an integral part of the itinerary to cycling tours offering a totally new perspective on a destination.

Some of our active adventure tours include the classic treks such as the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp as well as shorter one day or overnight hikes. Our cycling tours allow you to access hidden corners of a destination, discover remote villages and meet the locals – either en route or even by cycling alongside them. All our active trips are fully supported – with either porters and mules or by a support vehicle.

This tour is operated by our partners Exodus.



British, New Zealand, Swiss and most EU passport holders do not need a visa (and enter the country under the Visa Waiver Program), provided they are in possession of an onward air ticket when entering the USA. Visas for the USA are required by some nationalities, including South African, Greek and Portuguese passport holders. All passengers travelling to and from the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are required to hold a machine-readable passport (MRP). A MRP has the holder's personal details, e.g. name, date of birth, nationality and their passport number contained in two lines of text at the base of the photo page. This text may be read by machine. The US now charges USD14 for the visa waiver program and must be paid by credit card. The US authorities have introduced a mandatory requirement for all passengers travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to register for an Electronic Travel Authority. For additional specifics about the VWP please consult the VWP information on the U.S. Embassy London website.

A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information



Average daily distance: 56km (35 miles)
No. of cycling days: 10
Vehicle support: 100%

Daily distance in km/miles:











Terrain and route: Routes mostly follow scenic sections of Coastal Highway 1 and are 100% tarmac. Some hills along the coast but overall the trip is not demanding.

You should be aware that cycling of all kinds has its dangers and that accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that both you and your bike are properly prepared for the riding you are going to do.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.




All breakfasts and 10 packed/picnic lunches are included, allowing the option to try local restaurants in the evenings. You may wish to bring some of your own energy snacks, or these can be bought locally if required. The food is likely to be a highlight of this trip, with local restaurants offering a selection of great home cooked meals and plenty of seafood along the coastal areas. We recommend that you allow USD20 to USD40 per person per day for evening meals. The support vehicle will carry 3 litres of mineral water per person cycling day (available free of charge).

Local Bike Hire

Specialize Sirrus Sport £220, paid on booking . Bike hire should be arranged at the time of booking, and the cost will be added to your invoice. Very occasionally a bike of your size may not be available. We may be able to offer you a bike of a different but acceptable size, or otherwise you must bring your own bike.



You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information



Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.

As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.

We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.

For further information about responsible travel please click here.



Bringing Your Own Bike

Many people choose to bring their own bikes on our trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles. For more detailed information on bringing a bike from the UK, Information Sheet MBX will be sent to you on booking.

Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure that they have adequate cover for loss, damager or theft under either their travel or home contents insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Policy on Cycling Helmets

Imaginative Traveller believes that all cyclists should wear helmets in the interests of personal safety, and our leaders are required to do so at all times on all trips. Customers must wear helmets at all times on any 'off-road' cycling holiday and certain 'road' cycling trip.

On most road cycling holidays, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended, but we accept that some customers will want to exercise their own choice in this matter. Please note that not wearing
a helmet may affect the validity of your insurance. Those who decide not to wear a helmet do so entirely at their own risk, and in the knowledge that some 'road' trips may include some 'off-road'
sections. If wishing to use a helmet you must bring your own with you as they are not available for hire.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.


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