The All-Time Best California Roadtrips
It’s no secret that the west is home to some of the most beautiful sites and breathtaking coastal views in the country. Known for it’s diversity and easy access to several different geographies, California is the mecca for all things outdoors. You have the mountains in one hand, the oceans in the other, and the desert and national forests in between, all in day’s driving distance. Lucky for me, I was born and raised in Southern California, and have been fortunate enough to have traveled to essentially every inch of the state. For those unfamiliar, I put together a casual list of the best road trips to take if you are new to California. No matter where you decide to travel to, the Golden State never disappoints.
Up the Coast to Big Sur, CA
The most beautiful drive in the world (in my opinion) is the trek up Pacific Coast Highway. Although it’s a trip I’ve taken plenty of times, it truly never gets old. Traveling from the Los Angeles area, the drive is about 345 miles and will take about 6 hours. You’ll want to stop at all the landmark sights, however, so take your time and make sure to visit at all the essential locations that will make your trip worth while. Here’s some must sees:
- Julia Pfeiffer Burn’s State Park – Pictured above, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has to be one of my favorite places in this entire state. The trails leading down to the viewpoint is mellow and accessible for all ages. The views are absolutely beautiful.
- Pebble Beach’s 17 Mile Drive – the 17 mile drive through the affluent neighborhood of Pebble Beach is another must-do. Hidden beaches are around every corner, as you will see some of the best real estate in California.
- Heart Castle – This national historic landmark is one of California’s oldest tourist attractions. Located about 2 hours south of Big Sur, and 5 miles inland from San Simeon, this former mansion and summer home of William Hearst is complete with 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms and an indoor pool fit for a king.
- The Elephant Seals – If you’re heading up through this area during the winter, stopping at Año Nuevo State park to view the hundreds of elephant seals resting on the shoreline is a site unlike any other.
Traveling through Mammoth to Yosemite National Forest, CA
If you’re the mountaineering type, I suggest you make your way to Yosemite National Forest for some hiking, biking and all things outdoors. About 3 and a half hours from San Francisco and 6 hours from Los Angeles, Yosemite Valley is California’s premier national park. Iconic hiking trails including the Half Dome and various waterfalls are scattered throughout the grounds; there is no shortage of beauty here. On your way up, stop at Mammoth Lakes for the best mountain biking you can get your hands on, in addition to some crystal blue lakeside hikes as well.
Check out my latest YouTube video highlighting my recent trip to Mammoth Lakes!
Exploring the Desert in Joshua Tree
If you’re looking for some warmer weather and the peaceful desert is more of your style, add Joshua Tree to your to-do list. For those of us located in Southern California, Joshua Tree is just a hop, skip and a jump away. Unique rock formations perfect for climbing and exploring are one of the many activities you can do here. Although its a solid 8 and a half hour drive from SF, you won’t find anything like Joshua Tree in northern California.
Make your trip extra special by spending the night in one of the many campgrounds. Pickup a weeklong parking pass for $15 bucks, set up your tent at Hidden Valley Campground or Indian Grove, and spend the night underneath the most beautiful night sky in California. Check out Joshua Tree’s official website for more places to camp!
Soaking up sun in La Jolla, CA
What’s left of California? The magnificent pacific ocean of course. There’s no better place to enjoy the sand and surf than southern California, more specifically La Jolla Cove in San Diego county. With perfect weather gracing the coast 365 days out of the year, La Jolla is a destination perfect for any season. Although it can get a bit crowded during the summer, it is worth visiting for the snorkeling and ocean cave kayak adventure. For more things to do any places to visit in La Jolla visit: https://www.lajolla.com/
Do you have a favorite road trip that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!