Road tripping is the quintessential summer activity and hundreds of miles of coastline make California a scenic pick for your next vacation. Cruise down the famous Pacific Coast Highway catching ocean views between every stop.
7 Essential California Road Trip Destinations
If you start at the southern end of the state, don’t miss this coastal city. Whale watching in San Diego is a tourist favorite along with Balboa Park, a 1200-acre space that also houses the city’s world famous zoo. Head north to La Jolla to catch sunbathing seals and tide pools along the rugged coastline. At the southern end of the city, Sunset Cliffs offers scenic photo-ops.
Redwood National Park
Home to some of the state’s tallest trees, this national park offers stunning ocean views. Explore ancient forests and waterfalls or stay in your car on the park’s Coastal Drive and catch a glimpse of nesting seabirds. If you don’t mind soggy sneakers check out Fern Canyon, a mini-canyon with fern-covered walls.
Hollywood and an intersection with the also Route 66 make this sprawling city a must. Hike to Griffith Observatory for a great view of the Hollywood sign and free admission to the science museum. If you’re planning on taking selfies with your favorite celebrity stars at the Walk of Fame don’t miss out on the famous Chinese Theatre, home to one the largest movie screens in the country.
Yosemite National Park
If you can afford a detour inland, this world-famous park is worth the drive. Waterfalls, ancient sequoias and glaciers are just some of the natural wonders on view in this wild expanse in the Sierra Nevadas. Brave travelers can scale El Capitan, one of the world’s most popular rock-climbing destinations. The less intrepid tourist can take in the breathtaking view of glacier-created Bridalveil Fall.
Check out the famous Golden Gate Bridge or take a ferry to Alcatraz for a taste of infamous prison history. While you’re there, check out the food Fisherman’s Wharf has to offer, including the city’s famous Dungeness crab. Continue your culinary adventure watching how fortune cookies are made and sampling dim sum in the nation’s largest Chinatown.
Home to John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, this fishing city now boasts a world famous aquarium and jazz festival. Check out the aquarium’s kelp forest, then explore the rest of Cannery Row. No longer home to sardine factories, this bustling waterfront street is a tourist hub of hotels and restaurants as well as a popular spot for sport fishermen.
San Luis Obispo
World-class wine and a mediterranean climate make this beach town the ultimate relaxation destination. Active travelers will appreciate the hiking, biking and fishing. History and architecture buffs can enjoy Hearst Castle, former home of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst and subject of the film Citizen Kane.
Experiencing America by car is a classic national pastime. California’s famous highways offer an exciting ride through history and nature along with a rich cultural history. Whether you’re looking to spot celebrities or sea turtles, the state has something for everyone.