A personal vehicle, a catered meal, a guide who tailors the day exactly to your liking—few travel experiences feel more exclusive than a private tour. But these bespoke outings aren’t just for A-listers. In California, you’ll find great options for nearly any budget. Plus, with COVID-19 advisories top of mind, the small group setting has added appeal for everyone.
Choose from guided adventures to suit every style. Explore mid-century modern architectural gems in Palm Springs, hike through Mendocino’s remote coastal cliffs, or take a romantic gondola cruise through the Coronado Cays—all for less than $100 per person. Seeking a splurge? Try a once-in-a-lifetime California experience like a wine-tasting trip with a helicopter pilot as your chauffer, or an over-the-top luxury stay in Montecito, complete with private plane to whisk you to your room. Prices start at $460 per person and $50,000, respectively.
Here are 16 private tours and experiences available in the Golden State, listed north to south.
Fish the Trinity River
Follow the lead of an accomplished HarvestWild fly fisherman as you explore the beautiful Trinity River in search of steelhead trout. Tours max out at two anglers per boat, so you’re sure to get a personalized experience as you learn how to fish from a peaceful drift boat in Shasta County.
Forest Bathe in Humboldt County
Commune with nature inside Redwood National Park with shirin-yoku or “forest bathing.” Certified forest therapy guide Justin Legge of Redwood Adventures will help you slow down your mind and calm your spirit with a private, peaceful, full-day or half-day journey through the woods.
Explore Mendocino’s Stunning Geology
Embark on a journey through nature and time with Unbeaten Path’s Stornetta Lands Tour. Hike through the sea rocks comprising the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument as your guide provides a richer understanding of the geologic events that created this rugged masterpiece.
Go on Safari in Sonoma County
Hop in your private open-air vehicle as your expert guide takes you through an authentic safari experience in the hills of Santa Rosa. At Safari West, you and your group will see zebras, wildebeests, rhinos, antelope, cheetahs, and other creatures display their natural behavior in this 400-acre open-range habitat.
Explore Yosemite National Park’s Most Stunning Sites
With the help of an expert Echo Adventure Cooperative guide, you can visit Yosemite’s most iconic spots all in one day. This exhilarating tour takes you and your family to viewing spots for 2,425-foot tall Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, The Cascades, and Bridal Veil Falls. Don’t forget your camera—you’ll be filling up your Instagram scroll on this tour.
Wine Taste via Helicopter in Monterey County
Taste your way through the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA by way of a private luxury helicopter. Book a bird through Specialized Helicopters to enjoy sweeping views of Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley. You’ll fly directly to different wineries through one of the top cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay growing regions in the United States.
Travel Through Big Sur on an E-bike
Before the construction of Highway 1, the Old Coast Road was the primary wagon route along Big Sur’s stunning coastline. The twisting dirt road is now open to pedestrians, cyclists, and a few adventure-seeking motorists. Travel this 10-mile stretch atop an e-bike with Big Sur Adventures to see towering sycamore, the Point Sur Lighthouse, and jaw-dropping coastal cliffs.
Snowshoe Among Redwoods in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Explore the largest things on earth in a completely new way with Sequoia Guides’ four-hour private snowshoe tour, available December through March. First you’ll try on your shoes and get comfortable trekking before making your way through the snow-filled forest where the 275-foot-tall giants await.
Ride a Clydesdale in Cambria
A charming farm in San Luis Obispo County is one of the only places in the country where you can take a Clydesdale for a ride. The Covell Clydesdale Ranch is home to nearly 100 of some of the largest horses in the world. Call to book a private ride around the property, suitable for all abilities.
Jet Set to Montecito
Looking for an all-out luxury experience? Book the Jet-a-Way Package from Rosewood Miramar Beach. A private plane will whisk you from San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Dallas to one of the five-star resort’s impeccable suites. Your three-night stay includes 90-minute massages, professional golf and tennis lessons, and more.
Go Off-roading in Big Bear Lake
Splash through mud and climb over boulders with Big Bear Jeep Experiences. Choose your preferred adrenaline level—routes vary from beginner to advanced—and then hop in the driver’s seat of your open-air Jeep to explore exhilarating features and breathtaking vistas in this alpine town.
Tour Iconic Celebrity Sites in Los Angeles
Located in the heart of Hollywood, StarLine Tours is an L.A. institution. Get the A-list treatment with the two-hour Celebrity Homes Private Tour, which takes you past high-class homes belonging to household names, as well as glitzy locales like the TCL Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Whale Watch in Dana Point
Experience the thrill of getting up close and personal with the ocean’s most magical creatures with Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. Choose from six different vessels for your private charter, including a glass-lined catamaran for underwater viewing and a 38-foot luxury motor yacht.
Stargaze in Joshua Tree National Park
The dark skies of the Mojave Desert create the perfect conditions to explore the night sky. Book a private event with the 29 Palms Astronomy Club to take a journey through the cosmos with an expert astronomer and some high-power telescopes. Tours are available at the park’s campground or a location of your choosing.
See Mid-century Modern Architecture in Palm Springs
With the new Essential Tour of Palm Springs from the Palm Springs Mod Squad, you’re in the driver’s seat—literally. Follow the tour guide from the safety of your own car as owner Kurt Cyr provides fascinating insight into the work of architects like William Cody and Albert Fray through your mobile phone.
Float on a Gondola in San Diego
Take a romantic ride through the canals of the Coronado Cays with The Gondola Company. Your straw-capped gondolier will steer you by the mansions that line the waterways of the posh peninsula. Locally made truffles, wine, and other beverages are available for purchase.