San Diego & Palm Springs
The Sands of Southern California
8 Days | Year-Round
Starting At $Flexible Pricing
From the Beach to the Desert this tour explores two of Southern California’s most exciting destinations. It’s a great trip for Autumn, Winter and Spring. Let us provide you with a wonderful experience.
We are happy to accommodate Groups who want to add a night or two, or further customize their trip.
StarrGroups Flexible Pricing:
- Customizable Comps
- Net Rates
- Luxury or First Class Hotels & Meals
- Motorcoach Transportation & Professional Tour Managers are available
Whatever you want, StarrGroups will be happy to structure tour prices to match your needs. Just let us know!
Day 1 – (Sunday) San Diego – Free Evening in Little Italy
Arrive today in San Diego, CA for a four-night stay at your Mission Valley area hotel. The evening is yours to explore Little Italy. This Little Italy neighborhood is not your typical stretch of red-checkered-tablecloth eateries. Not only does the neighborhood boast of being the largest “Little Italy” in the United States—spanning 48 square blocks—but its cultural offerings extend well beyond its Italian heritage. Little Italy is filled with patio cafés, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, shops, and the beautiful Amici Park.
Day 2 – (Monday) San Diego Zoo – Balboa Park Day – Old Town & Dinner at Café Coyote
This morning at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park you take a guided bus tour through the tropical oasis of a botanical garden and zoological park that is home to more than 4,000 rare and fascinating animals, including koalas, Galápagos tortoises, leopards, roaming peacocks, and more. Explore Africa Rocks to discover penguins, baboons, the mysterious fossa, weaver birds, and others unique creatures. Your admission includes: Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari aerial tram, and all regularly scheduled shows.
During your afternoon here you have time to explore Balboa Park, home to more than 16 museums, gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, there is something for everyone. Enjoy lunch on own at Balboa Park. Your Explorers Pass and a free tram service provides you access to the many museums and attractions here.
Then head to Old Town San Diego. Soak up the city’s Spanish and Mexican history with a visit to Old Town’s fascinating museums, festive cantinas, and colorful shops. Dinner is included tonight at Cafe Coyote located in the Heart of Old Town San Diego’s Historic Walking District. Savor traditional Mexican food made from authentic Ingredients, watch Mexican Tortilla Ladies make fresh tortillas to accompany your meal the Traditional way “a mano” (by hand). You will also listen to strolling Mariachis fill the air with festive Mexican music. (B,D)
Day 3 – (Tuesday) Hotel Del Coronado Guided Tour & Free Time – USS Midway – Harbor Cruise – Free Evening in Gaslamp Quarter
This morning travel to nearby Coronado Island. Here you visit the famous Hotel Del Coronado, where in 1958, the movie “Some Like It Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe was filmed. It’s also widely believed to have been the inspiration for the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” as the author spent many winters at the oceanfront hotel.
Start at the 1889 Ice House Museum and discover the behind-the-scenes history of The Del, along with its world-famous, legendary guests. Featuring artifacts, memorabilia, and a Marilyn Monroe selfie spot, the Museum is also where all of the hotel history tours begin. The Museum is located next to the Power Plant on Wagers Row, the row of historic buildings along the main drive.
Then meet your guide for a tour of the Hotel. Bring to life the iconic resort’s rich heritage through an in-depth, docent-led walking tour of the Victorian building and gardens, including access to exclusive behind-the-scenes areas. Enjoy some free time in downtown Coronado for lunch on your own, shopping or relaxing on the beach.
This afternoon, tour the USS Midway Museum. Experience life at sea aboard one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers. Enter a floating city at sea and walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country and upheld the American ideals of strength, freedom and peace. Explore more than 60 exhibits with a collection of 29 restored aircraft. Those who dare can “take to the sky” aboard one of two flight simulators.
Next, enjoy the best sightseeing on San Diego Bay with a narrated cruise of more than 50 storied landmarks. You will cover over 13 miles on the Big Bay, passing by Seaport Village, Shelter Island, ship-building and dry-docking facilities, Coronado Island, Point Loma, and Cabrillo National Monument, among many others.
As you sail, you’ll see delightful marine animals and majestic sea birds, and hear about what local environmental efforts are doing to protect them. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture all the sights in photos and video.
Enjoy a free evening and dinner on your own in the Gaslamp Quarter. Located right in the heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is hotspot for you to shop, eat, relax, and party. From the humble taco stand to Michelin Star restaurants, visitors can choose from over 200 boutiques, galleries, restaurants, hotels, premium bars, live music venues, nightclubs and rooftop escapes. (B)
Day 4 – (Wednesday) Carlsbad Aquafarm Oyster Tour & Tasting – San Diego Botanical Gardens – La Jolla – George’s at the Cove – La Jolla Playhouse
Start the day in Carlsbad where you visit Carlsbad Aquafarm for an Oyster Farm Tour and Tasting. The Carlsbad Aquafarm is Southern California’s only shellfish farm and has been growing Pacific oysters since 1990. This unique farm tour and fresh oyster tasting experience includes a Farm Discovery Walk, showcasing the techniques and equipment used to support the growth and harvesting of homegrown oysters, as well as examples of how the farming process protects the natural ecosystem of the lagoon. At the end of the tour is as an Oyster Shucking Class, with an opportunity to shuck your own oyster, and Generous Oyster Tastings.
Next, visit the San Diego Botanical Gardens. This 37-acre urban oasis features four miles of trails displaying more than 5,000 plant species and varieties, including 300 plants for which SDBG is the only garden maintaining a population. SDBG has 15 gardens that represent different regions of the world, 12 demonstration gardens, and the largest public bamboo collection in North America.
This afternoon, visit La Jolla, the “Jewel of San Diego” for some free time. The seals live right next to the heart of La Jolla, the hilly village areas known as The Cove and Bird Rock. Enjoy incredible coastal views from downtown along with museums and art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutiques.
Dinner is included today at George’s at the Cove, a renowned three-level ocean view dining destination located in the heart of La Jolla overlooking the Pacific Ocean and northern coastline.
Following dinner, see a future Broadway hit at La Jolla Playhouse, located on the University of California San Diego campus. Co-founded by Gregory Peck in 1947, the theater has been the birthplace of a long list of crowd-pleasing and Tony Award-winning hits, from The Who’s Tommy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Jersey Boys and Come From Away. (B,D)
Day 5 – (Thursday) Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá- Wilson Creek Winery Tour – Palm Springs – VillageFest
Before departing San Diego this morning, visit the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá. Founded in 1769, this remarkable historical shrine provides an understanding of the roots of Catholicism in this part of the world, and a look at the extraordinary dedication of the Spanish priests who traveled far from their home country. The Mission also has a captivating 46-foot Campanario (bell wall) you won’t forget.
Next, enjoy a tour and tasting at the Wilson Creek Winery. Located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country, Wilson Creek is known for its quality wines and warm hospitality. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery and grounds and enjoy a sample of the wine afterwards.
Arrive this afternoon in Palm Springs, Southern California’s most storied resort oasis. This is where 1950s celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley built sleek estates, played golf at championship courses, and wined and dined the desert night away. On arrival, check into your Resort Hotel for a three-night stay.
This evening, enjoy VillageFest, the Thursday night street fair featuring arts, crafts, food, and entertainment! Every Thursday evening, Downtown Palm Springs transforms into the Palm Springs VillageFest, also known as the Palm Springs Street Fair. You will experience a diverse array of artists, artisans, entertainers, and purveyors of fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks and sweets. Add all that to the great shops, restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues located along World Famous Palm Canyon Drive – and the result is one of Southern California’s most popular weekly events: VillageFest! (B)
Day 6 – (Friday) Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – Marilyn Statue – Celebrity Tour – Copley’s on Palm Canyon
Start the morning with a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Experience a breathtaking journey aboard the World’s Largest Rotating Tram and travel up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. Once you reach the Mountain Station, enjoy spectacular views, gift shops, a natural history museum and a movie about how the Tramway was built.
Next, stop at the Forever Marilyn Statue for a photo opportunity. The statue, located at the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road in Palm Springs, is surrounded by a variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment. Enjoy free time for lunch and shopping on own.
The afternoon features a Celebrity Sightseeing Tour of Palm Springs. Home to championship golf courses, luxury spas and numerous casinos, Palm Springs originally gained fame as a vacation destination for high-profile celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Liberace. You will be transported from the present to the past as you visit the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Dinner is included this evening at Copley’s on Palm Canyon. This award-winning restaurant serves upscale American cuisine infused with traces of tropical and European flavors. Located in part of the former Cary Grant estate, you may experience a sense of nostalgia while dining outside on the patio with stunning mountain views or enjoying the inviting atmosphere indoors. (B,D)
Day 7 – (Saturday) Palm Springs Air Museum – Moorten’s Botanical Garden – Shopping – Desert Theaterworks Show
This morning, visit the Palm Springs Air Museum, home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII Airplanes. During your visit to the Air Museum you can enjoy: 46 Vintage Warbirds, tour through a flyable B-17 bomber, and test your skill on flight simulators.
Next, visit Moorten’s Botanical Garden featuring desert plant life native to the Palm Springs area. This living museum of desert lore has something of interest for everyone with glistening crystals, colorful rocks, ancient fossils, and pioneer and gold mining relics. In the world’s first Cactarium (a word coined by The Moortens), visitors will discover a special exhibition of rare plants seen nowhere else.
Enjoy free time this afternoon for lunch on own and shopping at the Gardens of El Paseo, the premier shopping and dining destination in the Southern California Desert region. The shopping centers feature trendy, upscale, unique-to-market tenants in an outdoor, garden setting. Anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, The Gardens on El Paseo and El Paseo Village features over 50 stores and restaurants including Anthropologie, Apple, bare Minerals, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Eileen Fisher, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Mastro’s Steakhouse, Pacifica Seafood Restaurant, Pottery Barn, Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar, Williams-Sonoma, Gucci, Bottega Venetta and TUMI.
Dinner is included at a local restaurant this evening. End the day at the nearby Desert Theatreworks for an evening of entertainment. Over the past six seasons, DTW has produced more than 50 plays and musicals, 8 children’s musicals and more than 20 special events, making them one of Coachella Valley’s leading producers of theatre and educational programming for the performing arts. (B,D)
Day 8 – (Sunday) Depart for Home
After breakfast, depart for home. (B)