California Road Trips: 5 Routes You Have to Drive
Experience everything California has to offer by taking an exciting road trip.
Located in the western part of the USA, California offers a variety of adventures and breathtaking sights every traveler must see. Take in the scenic views of Highway One, enjoy a mountain adventure on the Alpine Tour, travel the Mother Road on Route 66, and see the sights of both Northern and Southern California.
The Scenic Highway One
The famous Highway One stretches along the coastline of California. Travel north from San Diego to San Francisco and breathe in the pure Pacific Ocean air. Starting in San Diego, you’ll come across a vibrant city of neighborhoods and cultural attractions, beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine. Next, spend some time in Huntington Beach, a true surfer’s paradise. Los Angeles gives you a taste of Hollywood glamour and stylish rooftop restaurants, while Santa Barbara will introduce you to a European-style seaside town. The Santa Ynez Valley is known for its mellow wines and beautiful vineyards. Take a tour of Hearst Castle to see a marvel of architecture and design in its 165 rooms, 51 hectares of gardens and terraces, Roman-inspired pools and majestic guest cottages. Big Sur offers an ideal blend of art and nature, magnificent views and plenty of hiking opportunities. Monterey and Carmel are packed with gift shops, delicious seafood, popular bars and the can’t-miss Monterey Bay Aquarium. Hit Santa Cruz’s many surfing beaches that range from beginner to expert. End this amazing trip in San Francisco where you can sample a little bit of everything California has to offer, from famous waterfront vistas and attractions to groundbreaking cuisine and performing arts.
Driving Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean coastline through Big Sur
The Alpine Adventure Tour
This adventure takes you along California’s Sierra Nevada, a majestic granite ridge that cuts the border between California and Nevada. Starting at the sparkling Lake Tahoe and ending with the towering Sequoia trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park, this road trip features a host of unparalleled alpine scenery, waterfalls and beautiful mountain sights all along the way.
You’ll want to first stop at the ghost town of Bodie State Historic Park, where you’ll learn about the famous California gold rush. Experience the tufa formations, a salty lake that is more than twice as salty as the ocean, breathtaking landscapes and cinder cones at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Stop in Mammoth Lakes for outdoor activities such as skiing, horseback riding or taking a dip in natural hot springs, depending on the season. Visit Devil’s Postpile National Monument and see the spectacular basalt rock formations. Take a hike or go for a ski adventure on Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the United States. Stop off at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to see the largest living thing on Earth, the General Sherman tree. The last stop on this amazing adventure is Yosemite National Park, where you’ll see famed sights including the ancient sequoia trees and the world-famous Half Dome.
Walking through the Fallen Monarch on the General Grant Tree Trail in Kings Canyon National Park
Route 66 – The Mother Road
Follow the legendary road that was the main route for 20th century pioneers who were heading west in search of the legendary California dream. Most of the original road sections in California have been rebuilt, but you can still find landmarks and key attractions. Around Los Angeles, enjoy watching surfing at the Santa Monica Pier and learn about movie making at Universal Studios Hollywood. Visit the top museums in Pasadena and the classic racing tracks at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Visit San Bernardino County Museum for local and natural history as well as art from around the world. In Barstow, head over to the Historic Harvey House where the Western American Railroad and Route 66 Museum is located. Take in beautiful desert sights in the Mojave National Preserve, see the summits of Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio in Joshua Tree National Park, and experience the luxury of Palm Springs’ resorts and shopping centers. The last stop on this Route 66 trip is California’s largest state park, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near San Diego that measures in at 242,811 hectares (600,000 acres) of breathtaking views.
The Ultimate Southern California Trip
The whole family will enjoy this Southern California trip that is packed with well-known attractions and beautiful sights. Start off at Disneyland Resort where you can visit “The Happiest Place on Earth” for both young and old. SeaWorld San Diego is the place to go on swooshing and swooping rides and take part in interactive animal experiences. LEGOLAND California has more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, including three rollercoasters and meet-and-greets with various LEGO incarnations. Be sure to visit Universal Studios Hollywood for thrilling rollercoasters, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the world-famous Studio Tour. Outdoors lovers won’t want to miss the area’s most inspiring natural parks: Joshua Tree National Park gives you rolling hills and magnificent sunsets, Death Valley National Park gives you endless sand dunes and magical rock formations, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has the largest living thing, the General Sherman Tree.
Ready for excitement with 60 rides, shows and attractions at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad
The Ultimate Tour of Northern California
This trip covers 10 of the most popular destinations in Northern California. Starting in San Francisco, one of the most iconic cities in the world, see Fisherman’s Wharf, eat some of the freshest seafood in the area and explore the Golden Gate Bridge. The next stop is Yosemite National Park where you can witness rock climbing and hike beautiful trails to see massive granite rock formations and lush Sequoia forests. Go paddling or kayaking in the crystal-blue waters of Lake Tahoe and grab the perfect photo-op. See the boiling hot springs of Lassen Volcanic National Park, and learn about the history of California’s famous volcano. Be sure to spend some time at Burney Falls, known as the “8th Wonder of the World.” Mount Shasta offers endless hiking trails, ski slopes and beautiful views. Next up is Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, a park that harbors nearly half the world’s Sequoias. Wander along the park’s trails and see trees that are more than 1,000 years old. Check in to Eureka, a Victorian seaport that is lively and architecturally beautiful. Visit the artsy town of Mendocino and catch an annual festival featuring culinary treats such as mushrooms, wine and crab. The last stop of this ultimate Northern California trip is Muir Woods National Monument where you can take a hike and see some amazing redwood trees.