California Road Trip

**This post may contain affiliate links, but I would never recommend anything that I wouldn't highly recommend for myself ;)

**This post may contain affiliate links, but I would never recommend anything that I wouldn't highly recommend for myself ;)

It’s not because I lived there, but California is definitely an awesome place to visit. And in this post I am going to give you some tips to help you create an unforgettable road trip that will include a lot of the “must sees” in this state.

I would recommend buying a flight to Los Angeles as it is sort of half way where the whole itinerary is, but you can also buy a flight to either San Diego or San Francisco and then drive back up or down. You can also switch these destinations around, as I am organizing it in a way that seems more convenient in terms of distances. I will also be recommending the amount of days you will be staying (and it may sound like a lot!) but you can always reorganize it as you want depending on how long you have, the time of your arrival, etc.

Also, since it is a road trip, I am assuming you will rent a car and will be driving to each place yourself. You can always take trains and buses but this is the US so you are better off by having a car to move around, and you can compare different companies through this website. And finally, if you have the opportunity in any of the cities, it is definitely worth seeing their sports team play live in one of their famous stadiums, such as the LA Lakers (basketball) at Staples Center, or the San Francisco 49rs (American football) at Levi's Stadium and San Francisco Giants (baseball) at AT&T Park.
(For hotels you can check TripAdvisor or

So let’s start with LA:

Day One: Los Angeles

You can begin your tourist journey by visiting the Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You will see a lot of characters around and will get your first feel for California. Then you can drive along the Hollywood Blvd and take a nice picture of the Hollywood sign. A good spot would be from the Barnsdall Art Park at 4800 Hollywood Blvd or upon Windsor Boulevard, just between 4th and 6th street.  For palm tree lined streets, head to Beverly Hills. Drive on Hillcrest Road, Beverly Drive or Canon Drive between Sunset Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd. Since you are already in the area, you can visit Rodeo Drive for some shopping. 

Day Two: Los Angeles

On your second day you can do a studio tour at Universal Studios and see how movies are made and the backstage of the movie industry. Afterwards, a nice place to go would be the Getty Village and museum, where you can take some beautiful pictures as well.  

Day Three: Los Angeles

On this third day you can enjoy the beautiful weather and see all the famous beaches. You can start with Malibu beach then drive along the coast towards Santa Monica then Venice. Don’t forget to walk around the Santa Monica pier and the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Day Four: Santa Barbara

On this day you can drive along the 101 to this lovely little town (where I lived for two years) called Santa Barbara. This area is considered the American Riviera and there you will find some nice beaches (such as Butterfly Beach) and restaurants. You can walk along State Street and grab a bite to eat, then visit the peer and rent a bike to ride along the Shoreline. There are some great brunch places there as well.

Day Five: Drive along the US #1 to San Francisco

There is a faster rout through the US 101 to San Francisco but this one is the most beautiful and scenery option, where you will see the Big Sur. You can stop at Carmel, which is a beautiful small town, for something to eat. And don’t forget to enjoy the view and play “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie in the car! ;) And if you see an In and Out Burger don't hesitate to stop and try this delicious fast food spot out.

Day Six: San Francisco

Once you get to San Francisco you will realize that the weather is a bit more chilly :). I would first take one of the cable cars and go to the city center to see Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Union Square and China Town, on the latter don’t forget to try some authentic Asian food. If you have time you can still take a picture at Lombard Street and Coit Tower.

Day Seven: San Francisco

This day will be reserved to see the famous Golden Gate Bridge and take some amazing pictures of it. I find the best spot for pictures is from Baker Beach in the Presidio area, and then you can drive around that area and see the Palace of Fine Arts and Theather. From there you should visit the Golden Gate Park and Height Ashbury, which is this really cool hippie district. You can also check out the gay district called Castro or grab some great Latin American food at the Mission.

Day Eight: Napa Valley

Since you are in California, you shouldn’t miss trying some of its wine right from the source, so a visit to Napa Valley is well worth it! You can spend the day doing some wine tasting in one of your desired wineries and walking around this cute little town. If you have time and money to do so, I would also suggest taking a balloon and see the beautiful scenery and wineries from the sky.

Day Nine: Yosemite National Park

The Yosemite National Park is a beautiful area where you can be in complete touch with nature. Its waterfalls are breath-taking and even if you are more of a city person, it is still worth visiting this place. There you will also find shops, restaurants and a museum.

Day Ten: If you have enough time you can drive to Las Vegas from here and cross the Death Valley (make sure you have enough gas!) or go directly to San Diego.  It should be about 6 hours driving to Las Vegas from Yosemite and 7 hours to San Diego.

Day Eleven: San Diego

Since I am writing about a California Road Trip, I will skip Las Vegas for now but It is definitely worth going there if you have the time. In San Diego I would start walking along Harbor Dr and see the Seaport Village and check out the Maritime Museum. The San Diego Zoo is also worth visiting, especially if you are traveling with kids.

Day Twelve: San Diego

On this day I would recommend checking out the beaches starting with Mission beach all the way through La Jolla, and watch the most amazing sunset from there. Also, don’t forget to grab some authentic Mexican food and tacos, and if you want you can even go near the border with Mexico.

Day Thirteen: Orange County back to Los Angeles

Today you will be driving along the coast all the way back to LA. On this route you will drive through the OC, so don’t forget to check out the spots on the way, which are Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.


I hope this guide helped you with organizing your dream trip through California. You can always add or skip some of the places as it all depends on what you like and how much time you have. I also didn’t add much shopping or restaurant information as this varies with tastes and how much money you have :) Hope you have fun and enjoy the beautiful weather! 

You may also like: How to Book Your Perfect Trip and 15 Best Travel Quotes That Will Give You Wanderlust.