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Reviews are never edited or deleted unless the content does not comply with EF and Bazaarvoice's™ terms and conditions, which prohibit the use of such things as personal information and inappropriate language. On 8/6/2013, our name changed from EF Smithsonian Student Travel to EF Explore America, thus any mention of our previous name can be considered EF Explore America.
Totally AwesomeAs always EF Explore America did an absolutely fantastic job in coordinating flights, drop offs, pick ups, hotel stays and the itinerary. It is an awesome experience to be able to just sit back and go with the flow. From the tour guide, to the bus driver, to the hotel staff everyone seems to welcome our students with open arms. Plus they do everything within their power to accommodate everyone's needs, wants, and wishes. I am excitedly looking forward to next year's trip.
Pretty Good!Overall, our experience with the California Panorama Trip was great! I was one of the chaperones, and we didn't have to worry about a thing! The students had a fantastic time! The tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable. The bus driver was funny and can literally park anywhere! Any concern we had, the tour guide/ the company swiftly addressed. I've been to California on my own before, but I definitely enjoyed it much more with EF Tours!
Awesome tripIt was another great experience for me. The scenery and the coast was beautiful. I love getting to know the kids and adults that were on the trip. I was able to see things I only saw in the movies. It was a great experience and I would do it all over again. The leader was great with her information and just all around friendly. She joked around with us, asked kids questions with prizes and also played games. She was fun.
The bus driver was amazing. He really knew how to drive the bus. We thought several times he was going to hit a car but he didn't. The best part for me was the Alcatraz tour. The reason I went on this tour was for Alcatraz and San Diego zoo. That was one downside, not going to the zoo. It was on at the beginning and first meeting. Then it was taken off and it was never explained to us why it was taken off. Another negative was that we had a set schedule before hand and then during the tour things changed. It was changed from the chaperones. Several were not happy but we went along.
Overall, the trip was amazing. Thank you to whoever created this company.
Better Than ExpectedI never would have chosen California as a travel destination on my own. I went so my daughter and I could travel and felt safer going with a group. The California Panorama was the destination already chosen by our leader. The trip exceeded all expectations. I don't even think I can pick a favorite part, as it was all wonderful. San Francisco is gorgeous!! Great food, beautiful foliage, hospitable locals, spectacular views, amazing architecture....I could go on and on. Golden Gate is so much better in person than in photos, Alcatrez has a deep history I was unaware of, the city was beyond my expectations. Los Angeles was much more diverse than I imagined. I did not know how large that city actually is! We had a blast at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was fun looking for stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Griffith Observatory was neat and had beautiful surrounding scenery. The LA Farmers Market had many hidden gems and interesting booths. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who loves to travel. By the end of the week, I felt I had truly been immersed in California and seen what this state has to offer. I do wish we had gotten to see Yosemite, but geographically, it just was not feasible in the timeline. But hey, that just gives me a reason to go back!
Beautiful Scenery and WeatherThis is my second EF tour (my first as a group leader), and this one was even better than the first (which was to Dublin, Wales, London, Paris, and Normandy). Our tour leader was absolutely fantastic. He was very laid-back and easy to get along with. He was energetic, quick to smile and/or laugh, and fun to be around. It was pretty obvious that he has travelled extensively because he was very relaxed and confident.
The weather was perfect our entire trip (late June). We started our tour in San Francisco. Most of my students said the highlight of the San Francisco area for them was the Golden Gate bridge and the Golden Gate bridge park. For me, however, the highlight was Alcatraz. The audio tour was superb.
After two days in San Francisco, we traveled to Los Angeles. The students enjoyed visiting the Dolby Theater and the Walk of Fame. They also enjoyed seeing the Harry Potter actors' and the Twilight series actors' handprints and footprints outside the Chinese Theater. I enjoyed Santa Monica beach and walking along the HUGE pier there. All of us enjoyed Universal Studios. We especially enjoyed the Behind the Scenes Tour, the Water World show, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (although Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, has more Harry Potter attractions), the Mummy ride, and the Jurassic Park ride. One thing we did not like about Universal Studios Hollywood was that we did not see recycling containers anywhere -- all the trash was put in the same container -- and even though there was a sign saying that recyclables were sorted out later, we weren't confident that would really happen.
In San Diego, the students really enjoyed walking around Mission Beach, Venice Beach, and Coronado Island. We also visited the San Diego Zoo. The Skyfari at the San Diego Zoo was a fun experience and two of my students rode it multiple times because it was so much fun. The orangutuans were very active while we were there and we spent a considerable amount of time at their enclosure. The polar bear exhibit was closed for maintenance which was a bit disappointing.
Another thing we were disappointed in was how very, very dirty the public restrooms at the beaches were. We ended up going into businesses/restaurants along the beaches and purchasing something so that we could use their restrooms. At La Jolla Beach, we went into a surf shop and bought an article of clothing so that we could change out of our swimsuits and into our dry clothes in their changing rooms. All the businesses were friendly and understanding -- as long as we purchased something. This was something new to me -- I live on the east coast and visit NC and SC beaches frequently -- and I have never had an issue with the cleanliness or the availability of restrooms here. But, despite the restroom issue, the beaches were beautiful and absolutely worth visiting! My students and I were pleased that we were able to see so many different beaches and spend time at each of them. Students had time to sunbathe, rent bikes or rollerblades, or walk along the piers or boardwalks; we were generally given about two to three hours at each beach, although our visit to Coronado Island was much shorter.
The food was good overall and the quantity of food at the breakfast buffets at the hotels was more than adequate. We were given $10 each day to buy lunch with and sometimes shared plates so that we could stick within that $10 budget. Suppers were provided and were fine.
Our hotel rooms were nice for the most part (just one issue with one room), and all three of the hotels we stayed in had swimming pools for the students to use at night.
Our bus driver was excellent and went above and beyond (along with our tour director) to make sure we saw every single thing that we wanted to see. Honestly, if I could take the exact same tour again with the exact same tour director and bus driver, I would do it in a heartbeat.
DisappointedThe trip for the money was very disappointing for my daughter. All of the sights that she was excited to experience she never went to. I will never use EF Tours again!
AverageI didn’t feel like the security guards could watch 3 floors, not efficient! We need more money for lunches, very hard to eat at universal with $10. There should have been an option to pay for a fast pass at universal in our overall fee, we should have went during the week to universal so it wouldn’t have been as busy. I didn’t like that we spent a whole day traveling when we could have done it at night or flown. We didn’t get enough time at the Hollywood walk of fame, 30 mins does not cut it. We shouldn’t have went to Pier 39 three times when there are tons of other places to go too. Also we shouldn’t have went to the farmers market twice again with there being a ton of options in California.
Great tripThe trip was well organized. Our tour guide and bus driver was great.
$10 for meals was not enough in most places we ate. I suggest either giving the kids more money or suggesting they bring some from home. Our sponsor told us meals were covered. Some kids didn't have enough to eat on.
The hotel rooms were spread out between 3 floors. How can a security guard properly guard 3 floors? It would be better if the rooms were together.
We went to Pier 39 3 different times. While it is really cool place, it would have been fun to experience different places.
Cali TourOverall the tour was great! I was disappointed with our first and last hotel. Essentially the quality and food was horrible. Our first disappointment was in San Francisco. We were promised Alcatraz since the beginning of the tour, then when we received our itinerary Alcatraz was taken off. When were never notified of the tour being taken off and other tours before us were able to take the Alcatraz tour. Our group was provided a replacement for Alcatraz, but was not equal to our original offer.
Good ExperienceGood experience overall. Tour guide and bus driver, Michael and Danny were great. Disappointed in the LA Dodgers seating for handicap. We were given regular folk seating initially. They fit us in eventually with handicap after THREE innings. We could not see field due to obstruction by food bars in front of us.