Hello California: For Younger Teens
$4,495 + Airfare
Jul 29 – Aug 11
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from all over the world!
|Places we visit:||
San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe
|Optional group flight there:||
No Group Flight, arrive in San Diego
|Optional group flight back:||
No Group Flight, depart from Sacramento
This summer, hit up the West Coast on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip for younger teens, exploring The Golden State! We’ll start in sunny SoCal, seeing San Diego’s most iconic sights. Give back to the community as you volunteer with the local Boys and Girls Clubs, then hang ten as you learn to surf at one of the city’s most famous beaches. Immerse yourself in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles as we take you to all the best spots of this bustling city. Witness incredible landscapes and vistas as you travel along Highway 1, taking in the beauty of the world renowned Big Sur. Once in NorCal, check out Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. Embrace the city by the bay as you take in the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Muir Woods, and much more. Finish this ultimate road trip with a couple of magical days on beautiful Lake Tahoe.
On This Program You Will:
- Earn 5 hours of community service volunteering at the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego
- Learn to surf in San Diego
- Get up close with the animals of the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest and most famous zoos in the world
- See the seals and sea lions of beautiful La Jolla
- Give back to the community by volunteering with the Boys and Girls Clubs
- Explore Hollywood and the Walk of Fame
- Wander through Venice Beach and along the Santa Monica Pier
- See LA lit up at night from the Griffith Observatory
- Take a road trip along Highway 1, experiencing the unique Big Sur
- Sink your toes into purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach
- Be amazed by the exhibits at Monterey Aquarium
- Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge
- Enjoy a delicious chocolate sundae at Ghirardelli Square
- Feel what it might have been like as a prisoner at Alcatraz
- Hike through giant redwood trees at Muir Woods
- Experience a baseball game at ATT Park, considered one of the coolest ballparks in the US*
- Hike or mountain bike* along the stunning nature trails of Lake Tahoe
- Relax on a secluded beach and swim in the refreshing waters of Lake Tahoe
- White water raft down the mighty Truckee River
- Spend a magical day at Disneyland*
*These are optional excursions.
DAYS 1-4: SAN DIEGO
Our adventure begins in sunny San Diego. We’ll get our first taste of the laid back Southern California lifestyle as we explore the neighborhoods and coastline that make this city so well known! Wander through Balboa Park, watch the seals of La Jolla, hang ten as you learn to surf in the Pacific, and absorb the history of the charming gaslamp district. During your time here, you’ll give back to the community and have a chance to interact with the local children with the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego.
DAYS 4-7: LOS ANGELES
Tackle the second largest city in the US without feeling overwhelmed! Wander through “Tinseltown” to spot your favorite celebrity along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and check out the Chinese Theatre, explore vibrant Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier, window shop along Rodeo Drive, and hike through Runyon Canyon for incredible views from the Griffith Observatory. You will even have the chance to go on an optional day trip to one of America’s favorite theme parks: Disneyland!*
DAYS 7-8: HIGHWAY 1
Arguably the most beautiful coastal road in the world, we’ll spend a couple of days snaking our way up it, stopping at the postcard perfect beaches of Santa Barbara and Pismo, the stunning McWay Falls, funky Bixby Bridge, and the purple sand of Pfeiffer Beach. Explore the charming town of Monterey before strolling along quaint Capitola Beach and riding roller coasters on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
DAYS 9-11: SAN FRANCISCO
Experience all the best of the City by the Bay in the cultural epicentre of NorCal.. Ride the historical cable car and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of famous Pier 39. Sample incredible seafood while watching the lazy sea lions bask along the pier before enjoying a delicious sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Explore San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods, including Haight Ashbury, SoMa, Embarcadero, and Chinatown.
Head North to Marin County, where you’ll cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and stroll through the quaint seaside town of Sausalito before hiking through the impressive redwoods of Muir Woods. Hop on a boat across the bay to tour the infamous prison, Alcatraz, also known as The Rock. There will also be an option to watch a baseball game at the awesome ATT Park – the Giant’s home field.
DAYS 11-14: LAKE TAHOE
Not only is Lake Tahoe the largest alpine lake in North America, it’s also arguably one of the most beautiful. Enjoy being surrounded by nature for a special ending to our two weeks of exploring California together. We will hike through awesome mountain trails and swim in the lake’s refreshing clear waters. Try your hand at stand up paddleboarding, navigate your way through a high ropes course, and relax on a scenic boat cruise around the lake. White water raft down the mighty Truckee River and if you’re game, go mountain biking in the hills!*
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
This program is only for students who are currently finishing 7th and 8th grade and approximately 12-14 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT program the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
WHAT DO STUDENTS LIKE MOST ABOUT THIS PROGRAM?
Students love the insight they gain from experiencing the “real California” off the tourist track. Having the opportunity to learn more about the different cities and landscapes, as well as spend time with the local children, are just some of the highlights of this program.
What is unique about this program?
This program is designed for younger teens in mind. Intimate sized groups make this an incredible experience for everyone on board. You’ll see cities and spend time outdoors in some of the greatest places in California that will create lifelong memories.
WHAT IS INCLUDED?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, program related activities, program related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this program’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the program starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on programs that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
WHO LEADS THE PROGRAM?
The Trip Director for every program is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the program fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Programs may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
WHAT ARE THE SAFETY QUALIFICATIONS FOR OUR STAFF?
All of our staff members attend a week-long training session prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE GROUP SIZE?
Group size is important! A smaller group size provides unique opportunities that a large group cannot accommodate. Think of your favorite local restaurant; could it easily accommodate a group of 50 teens? Probably not! Our group sizes average between 14 to 21 students, which means that we are able to comfortably use local transport, enjoy local restaurants, and have a more authentic experience overall! A smaller group size also eliminates the likelihood of cliques, meaning that our groups all tend to bond as a cohesive unit. We guarantee that you’ll have enough people to meet some new best friends, but not so many that you feel like “just a number” or lost in a crowd.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other programs. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! We try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas they go in groups and for no more than an hour. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city. A lifeguard certified counselor will be supervising the students any time they are involved in water activities.
WHAT KIND OF VISA DO YOU NEED FOR THIS PROGRAM?
If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.