Located on the West Coast, America’s “Golden State” is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the states of Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona, and Mexico in the South.
A road trip is a great way to explore California’s diverse landscape. Parts of the famous Route 66, for example, will take you from California’s Mojave Desert, to the coastal town of Santa Monica.
|Santa Monica Beach is located close to Los Angeles.
Alternatively, the Pacific Coast Highway runs from California’s most northern tip to San Diego, passing through unforgettable areas of natural beauty and must-see wine regions. California is the USA’s largest wine producer with world-famous vineyards, such as Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, and Temecula Valley.
California’s Yosemite National Park is home to some unique natural beauty, including stunning waterfalls, shimmering lakes, and impressive mammoth trees. Yosemite is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range: with a peak of 4,000 meters, the park is popular among climbers and skiers alike. The highest ski resort, Mammoth mountain (around 3,400m), is open from October to May.
|Lake Tahoe is a great destination in both summer and winter.
From the ski resort’s town, Mammoth Lakes, it’s only 30 minutes to Mono Lake, which is three-times as salty as the sea. Its main attraction is the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve and its unique towers made of lime. Travel two hours north and you’ll find Lake Tahoe. Whether you visit in summer or winter, the lake’s beautiful beaches and 3,000-meter-high peaks make it perfect for sunbathers and skiers alike.
The major cities of San José and San Francisco are located east of Yosemite. During your time in San Francisco, be sure to check out famous sites like Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz prison.
Just an hour south of San José, you’ll find the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, a 30-kilometer-long railway. This runs along the Pacific Coast, from Castroville to Pacific Grove, and is famous for beautiful beaches and adorable otters.
|The Big Sur route is a world-famous road trip!
Not far from Pacific Grove, you’ll find the starting point of the world-renowned Big Sur route, which stretches from Carmel along the Santa Lucia Mountains and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to San Simeon.
The coniferous forests of Redwood State Park in northern California, with some of the world’s tallest trees, are another must-see. About four hours east, you’ll find Lassen Volcanic National Park, with 200 kilometers of hiking paths. Although Lassen Peak volcano hasn’t been active since 1915, there are still some hot springs, and bubbling pools, surrounded by solidified lava.
|Lassen Volcanic National Park offers 200 kilometers of hiking paths.|
Two nature reserves in California’s south are located almost next to each other but couldn’t be more different. While Sequoia National Park has a peak of nearly 4,500 meters, and is often covered in snow, Kings Canyon is much flatter, with a peak of just 100 meters, resulting in a hot and dry climate.
|Dante's View is a great viewing point over the Death Valley National Park.
Meanwhile, the Death Valley National Park is characterized by stone, sand, and salt deserts. Further deserts can be found in Joshua Tree National Park, which is also famous for its eponymous trees, which can live up to 1,000 years! From here, it’s only about an hour to Big Bear Lake, a great spot for fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, and hiking in the San Bernardino National Forest.
If you’re missing city life, head to San Diego, and stroll along the beautiful harbor, or the historical Gaslamp Quarter, which is also a great nightlife spot. Alternatively, visit Los Angeles to live like the stars in Hollywood, stroll down the Walk of Fame, and splash some cash on Rodeo Drive.
|Rodeo Drive is one of Los Angeles' most expensive shopping streets.
From Ventura, north of LA, take the ferry to Channel Islands National Park, which consists of five Californian islands. It’s home to a huge range of wildlife, including the endangered humpback whale.
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California road trip: 19 places you have to seeMore
Traveled up the coast as far north as Crescent City, the drive was absolutely beautiful. Historical points of interest everywhere. In my way back south I went into the Redwoods State park stunning views.
Overall this city is great as it’s a perfect blend of nature and cityscape. With lots of hiking trails, restaurants, and events; San Francisco is the ideal destination for many. A truly cosmopolitan hub! South of the city is a place called Shark Fin Cove which provides breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Stunning in May. We rented a van from Santa Cruz and cruised around and slept in it. Tons of wildflowers. Take from Big Sur Nacimiento Road to highway 101. Beautiful views along the way. Death Valley: hike mount Perry from Dantes View.
Absolutely beautiful and stunning. It is a private resort so you do need to pay a fee. However, its worth it.
A city with chilled vibe, friendly people and inspiring diversity - that’s LA! Plenty of dancersu, artists, street art, especially on Venice Beach and Melrose Ave. Renting a car is a must - LA is huge and public transport is almost nonexistent. Stay active - go for hiking to the Hollywood sign but choose more difficult trails. Harry Potter fans - don’t miss Universal Studios, it’s so realistic you will feel like in the movie. Download official app to see how long is the waiting time to specific attractions. California is extremely diverse. Beaches, cities, forests, mountains - both city and nature lovers will love it. Don’t miss Sequoia National Park - you won’t see these enormous trees anywhere else!
Amazing on-the-road with my partner. We organized our tour day by day, booking online rooms in hotel or inn. From Sanfrancisco we have drive to Los Angeles and San Diego following the Highway 1. Wonderful experience!
Everything here was beyond amazing! The weather is so nice & the mountain views were beautiful. The food is also really great. I cannot wait to go back!
Always my dream place with sunshine and beach
The American Parks' Tour it's an incredible experience. Everyone must do this travel once in a life.
Lots of things to do with great weather and amazing food! We biked the Golden Gate Bridge, and so much more!
It’s a magical city I totally fell for. The people there are crazy welcoming and open hearted. The cityscape is breathtaking no matter where you are. 10/10 would recommend. Sisco is magical.
The Golden State, Californias nickname known all over the world, summarizes all the pleasures you can find along the West Coast: – golden sunsets at the beautiful beaches/steep cliffs all along the coastline – gorgeous cities: glamorous-golden Los Angeles/Hollywood or foggy San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge – magnificent nature to explore: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite/Sequoia National Park – Napa-Valley for wine-lovers with its golden grapes Highly recommended!
I took a three-week road trip from Yosemite down to LA. It was beautiful! I'd definitely recommend towns like Santa Monica and Santa Barbara along the way.