Home Current Tours Previous Tours Travel Insurance Contact Us







APRIL 13 - 23, 2009

RMC Travel has again teamed up with gardeners Erika Shank and Elaine Peterson to invite you to join them on an exciting, educational journey to the gardens of California. We will visit many major botanical gardens and arboretums as well as private modern gardens and public historic gardens. This comprehensive tour at the height of the flowering season will provide us with the best viewing of the California horticultural scene.

From Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, Big Sur and San Francisco you will be accommodated in comfortable, deluxe hotels. The pace of our tour will be easy, allowing ample time for each visit, and most of your evenings will be free to explore these towns and their cuisines on your own.



In Santa Monica: The Georgian Hotel

In Santa Barbara: Casa Del Mar Inn

In Big Sur: Ragged Point Inn

In San Francisco: Hotel Kabuki


Tour Includes:

• Round-trip air transportation (or you can use your own air and join in California)

• Airline taxes and fuel surcharges

• Transportation by private coach

• Hotel accommodations

• Hotel taxes

• Daily breakfast

• Additional meals as indicated

• Garden sightseeing tours as per itinerary

• Sightseeing entrance fees

• Welcome Dinner

• Special Farewell Dinner

• Wonderful garden touring


Special Visits to:

• The Getty Museum

• The Gamble House

• Huntington Botanical Garden

• Lotusland

• Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

• Borromeo Mission

• UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

• Ruth Bancroft Garden

• UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

• S.F. Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum

• Filoli



Monday, April 13 - To Los Angeles and on to Santa Monica

Depart JFK for a non-stop flight to L.A. Check-in at The Georgian Hotel, Santa Monica. Dinner this evening on your own.


Tuesday, April 14 - L. A. & Santa Monica (B/D)

In the morning we will start our tour with a visit to see the gardens at The J. Paul Getty Museum at The Getty Center. These unusual gardens, created by artist Robert Irwin, are a testament to the ephemeral experience of the garden as it accentuates the interplay of light, color and reflection. “Always changing, never twice the same.” We will continue with visits to private gardens in the Santa Monica area this afternoon. Welcome dinner and overnight at the Georgian Hotel.


Wednesday, April 15 - Pasadena and on to Santa Barbara (B)

We leave Santa Monica this morning for Pasadena and then move on to Santa Barbara late in the day. Our first stop will be the fine Arts and Crafts home built by Greene & Greene, The Gamble House. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1908 and is a masterpiece of architecture. Next we go to the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Begun in 1903 by Henry Huntington, these important gardens now cover 120 acres and contain 15,000 kinds of plants from all over the world. From the Huntington we will travel up the coast 1 1/2 hours to our hotel in Santa Barbara, the Casa Del Mar Inn. Dinner on own.


Thursday, April 16 - Santa Barbara and Montecito (B)

We start our day at the famous exotic plant garden of Madame Ganna Walska, Lotusland. This unique 37-acre estate, developed by its owner from 1941 until her death in 1984, is now maintained by the non-profit Lotusland Foundation. This afternoon we will visit the garden of George Schoellkopf. You may be familiar with George’s wonderful Washington, CT garden. This is his winter garden in Santa Barbara which promises to be equally enchanting. We will also visit other private gardens in the area and if time allows, the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. Dinner on own. Overnight at Casa Del Mar Inn.


Friday, April 17 - On the Coast Road to Big Sur (B)

Today we will travel up Highway 1, stopping at Morro Bay to view its natural wonders and wild bird life. This will be a day of unparalleled beauty as we gaze at the magnificent California landscape. To top it off we will stay the night in Big Sur at the Ragged Point Inn where you can wind your way down their water-fall graced trail that drops 400 feet to a private beach, or just enjoy the view from above. Dinner on own.


Saturday, April 18 - Carmel and Santa Cruz, On to San Francisco (B)

On our way to Santa Cruz we will stop in Carmel to see one of the finest representations of the historic California Missions, the Borromeo Mission. In Santa Cruz we will have plenty of time to visit the extensive University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum. The situation of the arboretum is one of the best in the world for growing a diversity of plants. Many unusual species will be seen here with a focus on plants from the Southern hemisphere. We will see proteas, leucospermums and many other exotics in full bloom. And there are over 100 species of eucalyptus in this collection. This will be a spectacular display!


We will head for San Francisco late in the day to settle in at our final hotel, the Hotel Kabuki. Dinner on own.


Sunday, April 19 - San Francisco (B)

Today we will stay off the bus and have a restful day exploring the city’s unusual street gardens, steps, stairways and some historic architectural outdoor locations. We will visit a private home on historic Ford Street in the Castro district and see some examples of “Street Side Gardening” which helps divert rain from going into the sewer and for replenishing the water table. And we will visit the recently renovated Ferry Building which now houses food shops. The rest of the day is free for rest and shopping. Or take an Optional “San Francisco Architectural Walking Tour” (see details at end of itinerary) Overnight at the Kabuki.


Monday, April 20 - Walnut Creek and Berkeley (B/L)

We’ll get back on the bus today and drive out to the much acclaimed garden of Ruth Bancroft in Walnut Creek. This fine garden was the first preservation project of the Garden Conservancy and is an outstanding example of a water-conserving garden. Heading back to Berkeley we’ll stop at the UC, Berkeley Botanical Garden and we’ll visit the small, but fantastic private garden of artist Marcia Donahue. We’ll have a box lunch today. Dinner on own. Overnight at the Kabuki Hotel.


Tuesday, April 21 - San Francisco (B)

The entire day will be spent in Golden Gate Park at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum and the Conservatory of Flowers. There is also a Japanese Tea House and a new roof garden at the Museum of Natural History to admire that can best be viewed from the De Young Museum. Dinner on own. Overnight at the Kabuki Hotel.


Wednesday, April 22 - The Peninsula and Woodside (B,L,D)

For our last day of the tour, we'll see some very special gardens starting with Filoli, in Woodside, about 30 miles from San Francisco. Filoli is one of the great historic American country estate gardens and was first planted in 1917. It was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975 and has been maintained by a loyal group of volunteers and full-time horticulturalists as the Filoli Center. Following our visit to Filoli, garden designer Don Boos will show us some of his clients’ gardens in the Woodside area. At one of them we’ll have a catered lunch and at the end of the day we’ll watch the sunset with a glass of wine in hand at a Japanese Garden, the perfect ending to a great trip. Come join us! Farewell dinner this evening. Overnight at the Kabuki.


Thursday, April 23 - Tour ends (B)

Flight home to JFK.

Note: Itinerary correct at time of printing and subject to change for circumstances beyond our control.

Photos by Erika Shank