6 custom California ideas for your dream family holiday

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Everyone does a little California dreaming from time to time. It is the larger-than-life state of fantasy-made-real, after all: land of Hollywood and the Gold Rush; final destination on Route 66; home to LA and San Francisco; keeper of mighty Yosemite, the mystical Joshua Tree and Monterey’s windswept beaches; wine country extraordinaire and pretty much universally recognised as the birthplace of cool. 

It’s also one of Abercrombie & Kent’s favourite places on earth, and considering they’ve been creating luxury family holidays all over the world for almost six decades, that’s quite a coup for California.

There isn’t a corner of the state A&K haven’t explored in depth over the years. They know all the nooks and crannies made to delight kids, and not a single fabulous hotel has gone unnoticed. Tireless travelling has uncovered incredible secrets and experiences, and of course they’re more than familiar with the endless parade of big hitters too.

Time to stop dreaming and head for the west coast? A&K’s ultimate California experience is a combo of classic road trips, wilderness thrills, urban adventures, and slice after slice of iconic Americana, and it’s close to perfect for families.

But, since they’re tailor-made family holiday specialists, feel free to creatively customise the A&K California itinerary any way you like, and they’ll make it happen. Take a look and be inspired.

1/6 Three days in seductive San Francisco

One of the most famous harbour cities in the world, San Francisco is as astonishing in reality as you always imagined. First sight of the Golden Gate Bridge will take your breath away, you’ll be awed by the vast waterfront and charmed by the trolley cars; the hills really are impossibly steep, and you can promise kids flocks of wild parrots and enormous colonies of sealions.    


  • A night time tour of notorious, and atmospheric, Alcatraz prison.
  • Half a day cycling round San Fran’s iconic neighbourhoods with your A&K guide.
  • San Francisco Bay from above on an unforgettable seaplane flight.
  • Sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on San Francisco’s only America’s Cup yacht.
  • Three nights at five-star St. Regis San Francisco, in the city’s cool SoMa district.
  • A local A&K guide lets you in on the city’s secrets most tourists miss.

Have a closer look at San Francisco in three days. 

2/6 Two wild days in Yosemite National Park

Protected for over a century, Yosemite National Park is 1200 square miles of wilderness you’ll want to take your time over. The waterfalls here are spectacular, and if you want to know what all the fuss is about Giant Sequoia, this is the place to find out – remember to record the awestruck expression on kids’ faces.   


  • First taste of California road trip driving to Yosemite in your choice of hire car.
  • Two nights at luxurious Temaya Lodge tucked into Yosemite’s High Sierra.
  • Action-packed guided tour of Yosemite with your own personal ‘ranger’.
  • Visits to Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Bridal Veil Falls and Swinging Bridge.
  • Family downtime to explore Yosemite at your own pace.

Have a closer look at Yosemite National Park in two days.

3/6 Two days for quaint Carmel & the Monterey Peninsula

Officially known as Carmel-by-the-Sea, the locals simply say, Carmel. This is the town that’s so exclusive it doesn’t even have street numbers. Naturally, it sits on the Monterey Peninsula, another Californian legend, as famous for Cannery Row and fabulous Monterey Aquarium as it is for amazing seafood and the resident whales in Monterey Bay.


  • Two nights at Carmel Valley Ranch, a luxurious retreat set in 200ha of forest at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, and recently voted Condé Nast Traveler #1 Resort in California.
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of Monterey Aquarium.
  • Private eco-raft expedition out on to Monterey Bay; prime territory for spotting humpback and blue whales, dolphin and orca. 

Have a closer look at Carmel & the Monterey Peninsula in two days.

4/6 Two days by the Pacific in Santa Barbara

Luxe and laid-back Santa Barbara is as glamorous as its reputation, but the real showstopper here is the road into town. Head south from Carmel and you hit Route 1, AKA the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the world’s greatest drives, the views along the way are astounding, so take it easy; especially crossing Bixby Bridge where you get an eyeful of Big Sur, and understand instantly why Route 1 is such an icon.    


  • The drive over Bixby Bridge and immense Pacific panoramas; pull in at least one of the many stunning viewpoints.
  • An overnight stay in gorgeous Belmond El Encanto, a five-star luxury resort nestled in the hills overlooking Santa Barbara.
  • Sea kayaking along Santa Barbara’s dramatic coastline.
  • Whale and dolphin spotting.
  • Snorkelling the kelp beds at Scorpion Anchorage.

Have a closer look at Santa Barbara in two days.

5/6 Three thrilling days in Los Angeles & Santa Monica

Los Angeles is as complex as it is exciting, fortunately A&K prepare you with a personal guide for this once in a lifetime adventure. And just to make certain you experience LA from every angle, you’re booked into a luxury hotel in beachy and super-cool Santa Monica for three nights.


  • A private sightseeing tour of the city with your own personal guide.
  • A walking tour of the Hollywood Bowl and Hancock Park.
  • Paddleboard lessons on Mother’s Beach, Marina del Rey.
  • Biking on Venice Beach Boardwalk.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience.
  • VIP visit to Universal Studios Theme Park.

Have a closer look at LA and Santa Monica in three days.

6/6 Two lazy days on Laguna Beach

You can’t come to California with kids and not let them hang ten at Laguna Beach. Surf lessons with a pro-instructor are all part of the fun, and the pretty seaside town itself is destined to charm you completely.


  • Morning surf lessons with pro-instructor.
  • Lazy afternoon free to explore lovely Laguna Beach.
  • Visit to Catalina Island wildlife sanctuary.
  • Shopping and browsing local galleries and art studios.
  • Fabulous seafood in waterfront restaurants.

Have a closer look at Laguna Beach in two days

The lowdown

  • 15-night family holiday in California
  • Flights from UK to San Francisco and from Los Angeles to UK
  • A&K private guides
  • Car hire and accommodation
  • Cost: from £8,755pp
  • Best time to travel: May to October
  • California is great for kids of all ages, and because every A&K luxury family holiday is tailor-made, you decide which destinations, experiences, activities, travel-style and accommodation works best for everyone.

Is California your dream family holiday for 2018? Get in touch with A&K and find out more about their tailor-made luxury holidays for families in the US and worldwide.

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