California Adventure Vacations

california vacation adventure tours

From Death Valley’s depths to sky-high sequoias and Yosemite’s wonders, our California adventure vacations offer many ways to explore the Golden State.

California is a land of extremes. There’s Yosemite Falls: at 2,425 feet, it’s the 5th tallest waterfall in the world. There’s Tomales Bay: the state’s largest unspoiled coastal embayment. The tallest living organism on Earth, the giant sequoia, makes California its home, as does the world’s longest living organism, the Bristlecone Pine. California is also home to the rolling hills and vineyards of California’s Wine Country in Napa and Sonoma, and its home to Death Valley National Park where you can find some of California’s most impressive natural sights.

Our California adventure vacations offer a variety of ways to actively explore the wonders of this great state. All you have to do is pick your favorite and go!

California Adventure Vacation Packages

North America

Yosemite Adventure

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Yosemite is well-known for its towering granite monoliths, giant sequoias and dramatic valleys. Around every corner is a new jaw-dropping view, and on this 6-day Yosemite National Park Hiking Tour, you'll explore arguably the most awe-inspiring landscapes of North America.

Trip Start: Fresno, CA Trip End: Fresno, CA

North America

Joshua Tree Vacation & Death Valley

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

From Mosaic Canyon to the sand dunes of Mojave National preserve, discover other-worldly landscapes on our Death Valley and Joshua Tree vacation.

Trip Start: Palm Springs, California Trip End: Las Vegas, Nevada

North America

Yosemite Family Vacation

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 3 
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

Trip Start: Fresno, CA Trip End: Fresno, CA
california vacation

When Is the Best Time to Visit California?

The best time to visit California for an Adventure Vacation is June to August because the weather is favorable and the parks put on their best show of wild beauty.

If you're heading to Yosemite National Park, the summer months are a great time to visit. Thanks to the spring runoff, the park’s waterfalls are especially stunning in early June. By July and August, most of the park’s roads are usually open, and you’ll find the best options for hiking because most of the trails are accessible.

california vacations

What to pack for your California adventure vacation

We love exploring California – especially it’s incredible national parks. If you’re planning a trip California or Yosemite, Death Valley, or Joshua Tree National Parks, we have some tips for items you should pack on your adventure vacation.

1. Broken-In Hiking Boots

California is home to some of the most epic hiking trails in the country. Whether you’re just hiking for a few miles or the entire Pacific Crest Trail, you’ll want to have a pair of good-quality hiking boots. But, if you don’t own hiking boots, please don’t buy a pair the day before you leave! For maximum comfort “break in” your boots first. This will ensure that you don’t suffer from painful blisters on your trip.

2. Swimsuit

From the waves in the Pacific to the alpine lakes in Yosemite, there are plenty of places to swim in California. If you’re a fan of getting in the water, you won’t want to be get caught in this state without a swimming suit! You can even swim in Death Valley – the driest place in the continental U.S.

3. Reusable Bag and Water Bottle

California is a very eco-conscious state. For example, California was the first state to ban grocery stores from handing out plastic bags for free. We recommend packing a fast-drying, lightweight bag that folds into itself. It’s also important to pack a reusable water bottle – especially if you’re visiting Death Valley. (Note: We’ll hook you up with these goods if you’re on any of our trips!)

california vacation 2

Travel tips for visiting California

Every year, more than 200 million travelers visit California. Many of those visit our favorite national parks, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite, and many of those end up missing out on what we think are some really neat things. Below are some of the tried-and-true must-dos that we hope you’ll have time for!

1. Meet John Muir

While John Muir has been dead for some time now, this Scottish-American naturalist’s legacy is very much alive thanks to his significant role in the establishment and preservation of Yosemite National Park. If you have a chance, learn a little about this remarkable man who devoted his life to making sure that others could fully appreciate this special place. The more you know about John Muir, the more you’ll be able to see the park through his eyes and fully enjoy its wealth of beauty and nature.

2. The Golden Hour

While in Death Valley, don’t miss what photographers refer to as the “golden hour.” You’ll be in awe of the magic that takes place as the sun sets over the Mesquite Sand Dunes. Sunrise is also a great time to photograph this ever-shifting sea of sand that has features you’ll probably never see again.

3. Don't rely on your phone

Cell service in both Yosemite and Death Valley is spotty or non-existent in many places. Don’t schedule any important calls or plan on Instagramming while you’re traveling in these parks! If you’re worried about not being able to use Google Maps, pack a GPS or pick up a map at a visitors’ center.

Active Adventure Assurance

Secure Your Spot Now, Pay the Rest Later

As members of the Active Adventures family, Austin Adventures offers booking assurance that allows you to secure your spot with a deposit now and pay the rest later. Plus, if your plans change or you can’t travel, you can transfer your booking or request a refund on any additional funds paid (less deposit) up to 90 days from your original trip start date.  

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FAQs About our California Vacations

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

As an Austin Adventures traveler, it’s highly recommended you take out travel insurance to cover the likes of travel delays, missed connections, medical expenses or injury, or lost baggage for your travel with us. Please head to our Travel Protection page for more in-depth information and our recommended insurance provider.

What's included on your North America trips?

Accommodation

We've spent years finding places to stay that are quaint, perfectly-located, and comfortable when we take you to the most amazing parts of North America. We offer a wide variety of accommodations on our trips ranging from locally run inns and first-class hotels to resorts, dude ranches and historic national park cabins. Accommodations are selected for their location, unique charm and history, and offer a true feel for the region. We strongly believe in the value of a good night's sleep and our accommodation reflects this. We also like to have somewhere comfortable to relax after the day's activities.

Transport

We're really focused on ensuring that we spend as little time as possible sitting in vehicles, and that we optimise your vacation for adventuring in the great outdoors. Our average driving time is just over two hours a day, and we make plenty of stops for bathroom breaks and sightseeing along the way. We use modern, comfortable 15-passenger vans for all of our transfers and a second van is added to most departures to provide more flexibility and more room to spread out while seeing the sights! Make no mistake - our trips are not typical bus tour vacation packages! Picture more of a road trip with family complete with good music, tasty snacks, and plenty of guide-supplied fun facts along the way to keep you entertained!

Meals

Just about all your meals are included when you travel with Austin Adventures in North America. We provide a wide variety of cuisine - breakfasts are typically eaten at your hotel on your own time in the morning before meeting up with the group. Lunches feature everything from elaborate picnics to roadside cafes to sandwiches trailside. Dinners are usually eaten at our hotel's dining room or a local restaurant with plenty of options to choose from. We easily cater to vegetarians, picky kids, and people with particular dietary needs. All our guides have food safety certificates and are well-practiced in the art of food prep and serving while on-the-move. You'll find the meals are a real highlight of your trip!

All Guiding Services

Each trip features two or three incredible guides and our average guest to guide ratio is 6:1. Our guests are often drawn to North America by the beautiful scenic landscapes, promise of wilderness and clean air - and there's no doubt you'll find all that, though what you may not be expecting is to forge real, genuine friendships with your fellow tripmates, including our wonderful guides. They're hands-down the BEST guides you'll ever come across.

Activities

Any activity described in our itinerary, such as hiking, rafting, horseback riding, kayaking and biking, are included in your trip cost. Our itineraries are pretty jam-packed to maximize our time spent exploring in these amazing places, and your guides will make it clear if there are additional activities available (at your expense).

How many people are there on each of our North America trips?

We get a real variety of people on our trips and they all seem to have one thing in common – a love of the outdoors! Our trips can accommodate up to 22 guests, depending on each departure. Our adult-only departures require a minimum age of 16 years and generally feature a mix of singles, couples and friends, and our family departures require a minimum age of 6 years to join (7 years on our Alaska Family Adventure) and are a great way to meet other like-minded families who like to get outside.
Please note child rates apply to children 12 years and under.

Do you charge a forced single supplement if I'm a solo traveller?

We regularly accommodate single guests on our group trips and there’s no forced single supplement if you don’t mind sharing a room (you might even get a room to yourself sometimes). If you prefer not to share a room at all, you can upgrade to a single room.
PLEASE NOTE: If you book within 90 days and you’re a Forced single, you’ll be required to pay for your own room.

If I book a trip with my children, will I be sharing a room with them?

Active Adventures & Austin Adventures family vacations are naturally about spending time with family and as such, most families opt to share rooms on our trips. At time of booking, families consisting of four guests with children aged 17 and under will be automatically assigned one shared room. However, the following alternative rooming allocations are available:

  • Families consisting of four guests with all children aged 13 and above are welcome to opt for additional rooms as per advertised double occupancy adult rates.
  • Families consisting of four guests with at least one child aged 12 and under are automatically assigned a shared room. However, families can opt to pay the adult rates for all guests in their family to have an additional room.
  • The same principles apply for families consisting of more than four guests.

Rooming preferences are subject to availability and must be communicated in writing at time of booking. Automatic assignments as per this policy will be applied in the absence of any specification provided by guests. Any request for additional rooms during trips will be at the guests’ own expense and subject to rates made available by the accommodation provider at the time. All minors (guests aged 17 and under) must be accompanied by at least one adult.

What if I need a special diet?

We’re accustomed to catering to the following special diets:

  • vegan (no meat or animal products)
  • vegetarian (no meat products)
  • pescatarian (vegetarian, and eat fish)
  • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
  • no pork (eat chicken & fish)
  • gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
  • lactose intolerant (no dairy products)
  • picky kids (send us a list of what your child will eat and we'll make sure to have it!)
You will get the opportunity to specify your particular requirements when you fill in your travel wallet. If you have any other dietary requirements please let us know well in advance, via email or the online travel wallet.

 

How much luggage can I bring on the North America trips?

You'll need one piece of luggage, plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be a soft sided duffel or a suitcase with wheels, and you'll need a good quality 18-24 liter daypack to carry with you throughout the days on the trails.

As far as extra luggage goes, if there's not too much (such as one small extra bag per person) then it shouldn't be a problem to fit it in our luggage trailer during the trip. If you've got more than that, then all major airports have luggage facilities available on a weekly basis, or if you are staying at a pre-trip hotel they may be able to store it for you until you return too.

How much spending money should I bring and where do I get cash?

You'll be able to find a reliable ATM once you arrive to start your trip, within the township or at the airport you land in, as national park ATM locations are sparse at best. Aside from tips for your guides, you could bring $200 and go home with change though some people like to bring some cash to cover a round of drinks, a few souvenirs, and dinner on "night on your own", although you could just as easily use a credit card for these purchases too.

What are your recommended guide gratuity guidelines?

You will have 2-3 guides on your Austin Adventure (depending on group size) and we recommend $15-25 per day, per guest, per guide. Typically, gratuities are offered by check or cash in local currency on the final morning of the trip and can either be given to each guide individually or to one guide to be equally distributed. Most of our guides these days also accept gratuities via Venmo (please note this app does not work in Canada). All dining, housekeeping and activity tips are included in your trip price.

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of business hours), dial the extension for the emergency line. If no one immediately responds, please leave a message so we can pick it up and return your call as soon as we can.
Free phone 1 800 661 9073
Email: service@austinadventures.com

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California Adventure Blog and Stories from the West

Why Travel With US

benefit group size

Just-right group sizes allow you to get off the beaten path

With an average of 12 guests per departure and an industry-leading 6:1 guest-to-guide ratio, you’ll enjoy a highly personalized experience with the perspective of an insider.

benefit guides

Award-winning guides lead the way

It’s so much easier to relax and enjoy your adventure when you have fun, caring guides who know the land, are experts in motivation, sweat all the details and whip up incredible meals, too!

benefit inclusive

You’ll never need to sweat the details

When we say all inclusive, we mean it! Meals and snacks, activities, lodging, transportation, guiding services and more. Every detail is handled; all you need to do is show up!

benefit safety

Enjoy freedom to push your boundaries – safely

Every aspect of your trip is thoroughly considered for your safety, from highly vetted vendors and well-maintained equipment to extensively trained guides and our seasoned operations team at headquarters.

benefit family

Decades of expertise mean you’ll experience only the best

Family travel and North American National Parks are our specialty. We’ve perfected our itineraries and sustained relationships for decades, ensuring you'll experience your destination to the fullest.

benefit wow

"Wow Moments” take your trip from enjoyable to extraordinary

For us, the extra mile is never extra, it’s part of the way! Count on special touches throughout your trip that will amplify your experience. If we’ve done our job, they’ll have you saying “wow!”