The Excellent 10 Day California Highway Journey Itinerary (2023 Information)


Plan the last word California highway journey itinerary with our 10-day highway journey itinerary, together with all the finest nationwide parks, cities and different points of interest!

California is immediately charming. Its main cities twinkle within the highlight, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Hollywood Signal in Los Angeles. Its pure magnificence is considerable as effectively, from the cliffs of Large Sur to the seashores of Santa Barbara.

Nonetheless, California is ever-changing, and it modifications quick. Rising snow-capped mountains soar out of lifeless deserts. Roads weave by means of conifer forests and large redwoods, the place alpine lakes mingle amongst scorching springs and native cities that boomed with the expansion of climbing.

Metropolises and epic nature are by no means far aside on this state. However it’s the California highway journeys between them that make it the proper state to activate the engine and put the automotive in drive.

This final California highway journey itinerary will embody the highlights of this large west coast state. From nationwide parks to huge cities, lazy seashore cities, and extra, right here is our information to planning one of the best California highway journey!

In search of the very best issues to do in California? Take a look at our full checklist right here!

The Excellent California Highway Journey Itinerary

One of the best ways to journey from northern California to southern California, or vice versa, is by way of an epic California highway journey. Certain you possibly can take a fast flight, however one of the simplest ways to soak up all of the the Golden State has to supply is by exploring on land.

This 10-day California highway journey itinerary offers you a pleasant introduction to this lovely state. California is huge, and 10 days will not be almost sufficient for seeing all of it. However in these 10 days, you’ll get to see as a lot as attainable. Let’s get into it!

One of the best ways to get round is to hire a automotive and discover by yourself! We suggest Rental Automobiles, which has the biggest vary of automobiles for one of the best worth in the marketplace.

Los Angeles
Begin your highway journey on this huge metropolis of Los Angeles!

Day 1 – Los Angeles

World-famous Los Angeles makes for the proper place to begin your California highway journey itinerary. With easy accessibility from world wide, fly into LAX, hire a automotive, and begin exploring. Listed here are just a few of the finest issues to do in Los Angeles!

Begin your time in Los Angeles by getting your bearings. The Griffith Observatory gives wonderful perception into the cosmos, however simply as relevant are its far-reaching views throughout town, the Hollywood Signal, and the Pacific Ocean.

House to Lotus flower beds, floating swans, and paddle boats, Echo Park is a glimpse into LA’s previous and present magnificence. Ebook a paddle boat prematurely to finest benefit from the surroundings. Afterward, choose from a smorgasbord of native meals vehicles.

Because the solar units on Los Angeles, soak up a present on the beloved Hollywood Bowl. The ethereal amphitheater has constant occasions from festivals to live shows that includes an entire vary of genres. With the sky a burst of colours, it’s a charming music house.

Getting round Los Angeles is usually a nightmare. Lack of strong public transport and gridlocks can sluggish you down on what’s already a good California highway journey itinerary.

The Hop-on Hop-Off Bus delivers you to among the metropolis’s highlights, together with the Hollywood Stroll of Fame, Sundown Strip, and Beverly Hills. You may at all times wait to choose up your rental automotive till after you discover LA!

Have extra time? Take a look at our 3 Days in Los Angeles itinerary!

The place To Keep In Los Angeles

Near Rodeo Drive, The Peninsula has a world-class restaurant, a rooftop pool, a health heart, and a full-service spa. It’s the best choice for luxurious in Los Angeles!

In Venice Seashore, Keep Open brings among the finest seashores in Los Angeles. Take pleasure in free bike leases and WiFi so you possibly can discover LA with ease.

Near Hollywood Boulevard, Banana Bungalow leaves you near the motion with low cost onsite dinners plus common free BBQs. If you happen to’re on a funds throughout your California highway journey, there are some nice low cost hostels across the state!

Day 2 – San Diego

This drive takes 2 hours from downtown Los Angeles

After a leisurely drive from Los Angeles, uncover the lovable San Diego, the place sprawling parks harbor dozens of museums, galleries, and world-class zoos.

Seashores supply greater than only a fast surf, the truth is, you possibly can anticipate finding life-changing burgers. At night time, the bay glistens alongside the Gaslamp Quarter, right here you possibly can mirror on a busy first few days.

San Diego is a should on any California highway journey. Right here is our checklist of one of the best issues to do whereas visiting San Diego.

San Diego
Soak within the pure magnificence whereas exploring San Diego.
  • Mission Seashore and Hodad’s

Earlier than you make it to downtown San Diego, cease for a swim and one of the best burgers in America. Large name, so I’ll allow you to determine. Hodad’s is a gastronomic and cultural gem. Whereas Mission Seashore is the proper strategy to cool off after a giant drive.

The in depth San Diego Zoo takes you on a journey by means of our pure world. Expertise the Elephant Odyssey or the Polar Bear Plunge alongside 4,500 different endangered or uncommon animals from throughout the globe.

It takes days to discover the unbelievable Balboa Park with a fine-tooth comb. However in such a short while, choose your favorites among the many 16 museums, spectacular Spanish structure, landscaped gardens, and galleries.

Overlaying 10 acres, the USS Halfway Museum boasts 30 historic plane on board the well-known service. Study extra about WWII and the Battle of Halfway, and expertise actual cockpits alongside different interactive reveals. Afterward, wander alongside the Embarcadero.

As soon as the solar has set, the Gaslamp Quarter lights up and the streets’ cobblestones glimmer underneath the celebs. Take pleasure in a enjoyable night time in San Diego whereas exploring this romantic district house to high-end eating places and candle-lit cocktail bars.

The place To Keep In San Diego

With 4 outside swimming pools, half a dozen eating places, a golf course and a spa, the five-star Fairmont Grand Del Mar has all of your wants lined.

In Downtown San Diego, Motel6 gives cable TV, free Wi-Fi, and shut proximity to the highest adventures across the metropolis.

Set within the Gaslamp Quarter, HI San Diego is a refurbished city hostel with a enjoyable environment, a recreation room, plus self-guided excursions and adventures.

Have extra time? Take a look at our 3 Days in San Diego Itinerary!

Day 3 – Palm Springs

This drive takes 2 hours and quarter-hour from San Diego.

In southern California, Palm Springs is a gateway to epic mountain ranges and mystical deserts. Your time right here is full of mountaineering trails delivering memorable views and guiding you thru a singular nationwide park. However the city itself has a captivating tradition, procuring, and common enchanting occasions.

  • Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

The principle cause to go to Palm Springs is to discover Joshua Tree Nationwide Park. This intriguing nationwide park showcases the great thing about the desert landscapes, its distinctive flora, which gave the park its title, plus the colours that make each use of an open canvas.

After visiting Joshua Tree Nationwide Park, store, eat, and stroll your method by means of downtown Palm Springs. Lovable boutiques whisper your title with handcrafted items trying to discover a house in your highway journey automobile. On Thursday evenings, the city involves life for its weekly VillageFest.

  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

With no time to hike, make a journey up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the summit of San Jacinto Peak. The beautiful rise offers views throughout the Coachella Valley together with the Chino Canyon.

  • Thousand Palms Oasis Protect

If you happen to select to keep away from downtown Palm Springs, Thousand Palms Oasis Protect is a superb various. Stroll amongst 150-year-old bushes the place the desert mixes with unique landscapes to create a spectacularly colourful ecosystem.

  • The San Jacinto Mountains

An alternative choice is to discover the San Jacinto Mountains in better element. The Deer Springs Path is a difficult, designated Nationwide Scenic trek that takes you to the San Jacinto peak for an in the end rewarding expertise by means of memorable desert landscapes.

Discover extra of one of the best issues to do in Palm Springs right here!

The place To Keep In Palm Springs

Near downtown Palm Springs, The Paloma Resort is ready in historic bungalows with mountain surroundings and gives impressed Spanish delicacies in a former mission.

The Travelodge offers vacationers with easy accessibility to the city’s finest eating places and procuring whereas being an important base to discover past.

With free onsite parking and complimentary breakfast, the Crashpod Hostel is cozy, cheap, and an important place to recuperate.

Day 4 & 5 – Mammoth Lakes

This drive takes 8 hours and quarter-hour from Palm Springs, by way of Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park

At present in your California highway journey itinerary, drive from Palm Springs by means of the ethereal Loss of life Valley. The drive alongside Route 395 might be unforgettable, delivering you first to Convict Lake after which to the great thing about Mammoth itself.

On the second day, discover the lakes, journey the gondola, and hit the new springs.

Discover extra issues to do in Southern California right here!

Day 4:

  • Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park

Break up your journey to Mammoth Lakes with a drive by means of the otherworldly Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park. Cease by Badwater Basin and stand nearly 240 ft beneath sea stage within the depths of Loss of life Valley.

If you happen to love distinctive pure surroundings, Loss of life Valley is a should on any California highway journey!

Death Valley
Loss of life Valley is likely one of the wildest locations to see in California.

Subsequent, get a sneak peek at Convict Lake. The alpine lake is surrounded by fast-rising peaks and whereas it’s a dawn scorching spot, its serene magnificence could be admired at any level. Simply off the freeway, you received’t even have to go away the automotive.

  • The Village at Mammoth Lakes

After an unlimited and delightful day on the highway, take pleasure in a calming night within the Village at Mammoth Lakes. Retailers, eating places, and bars mix on this traditional mountain village. Take pleasure in a pleasant meal earlier than resting up for the day forward.

Day 5:

There’s no higher strategy to benefit from the enchanting lakes than on a stand-up paddleboard. The handful of close by our bodies of water are sometimes calm and glass-like, resulting in ease of motion and the possibility to really feel small alongside the beautiful Sierras.

In your strategy to Satan’s Postpile, cease on the Minaret Vista to admire the everlasting fantastic thing about the Sierra Nevada. Set within the Japanese Sierra Vary, these craggy mountains fall right down to huge valleys and have two hovering spires, together with Clyde Minaret.

A nationwide monument, the Devils Postpile is a formation of large basalt columns. These have been created by lava which cooled over 80,000 years in the past. The hexagonal columns can attain as much as 60 ft in top.

Part of the Devils Postpile Nationwide Monument, don’t miss out on a trek to Rainbow Falls. Stroll from the submit pile to find a 100 ft waterfall whose constant rainbows gave the autumn its title. It’s also possible to stroll immediately right here by driving to the Rainbow Fall trailhead.

It’s been a busy day of exercise, so take it down a notch with a journey on the Mammoth Mountain Gondola. The journey up lands you at over 11,000 ft. The panoramic views span the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

  • Wild Willy’s Scorching Spring

Finish your day with a recuperating expertise at Wild Willy’s Scorching Spring. It’s been a busy journey to this point, so put your legs up in one of many two springs whose temperatures vary from 95 levels as much as 105.

The place To Keep In Mammoth Lakes

From Westin Monache Resort, you possibly can take the gondola to the highest of Mammoth Mountain earlier than returning to utilize your kitchenette in addition to the onsite pool and scorching tub.

The Tamarack Lodge dates again to the Twenties and, among the many included kitchens and personal fireplaces, the lodge hasn’t misplaced any of its attraction.

The Moderne Hostel offers visitors with massive communal and cooking areas, together with BBQ amenities, whereas being near Mammoth Mountain.

Day 6 – Lake Tahoe

This drive takes 2 hours and 40 minutes from Mammoth Lakes

With one full day in Lake Tahoe, it’ll be as much as you the way a lot you discover. Do you select to focus your day driving by means of Yosemite Nationwide Park in your method there or do you are taking the direct path to discover native hikes, parks, and lakeside cities? There’s no shedding right here.

An choice alongside the drive from Mammoth Lakes is the world-famous Yosemite Nationwide Park. You’ll have to make it a precedence to discover effectively, however views of El Capitan and Half Dome make any “detour” value it. Yosemite Nationwide Park is so well-known that you could be even select to solely focus immediately’s exploration on that! Fortunately this final California highway journey is customizable, and you may simply change it to permit for extra time in Yosemite Nationwide Park.

A direct drive to Lake Tahoe leaves ample time to discover. Take a look at the close by, charming Fallen Leaf Lake the place you possibly can SUP or kayak earlier than having fun with some waterfront eats surrounded by epic mountains.

For rewarding views of Lake Tahoe with out a prolonged hike, meander down the Eagle Rock Path. The mile-long trek is family-friendly and ends with breathtaking views of the lake with enchanting nature alongside the best way.

Alongside the west shoreline of Lake Tahoe, you’ll discover the favored Emerald Bay State Park. Discover mountaineering, swimming, and mountain biking all through whereas you can too discover Vikingsholm, with its spectacular Scandinavian design.

Visiting the charming mountain city of Tahoe Metropolis is an effective way to ring within the night. Alongside the lake’s edge, the city has elegant mountain structure, native galleries, loads of locations to eat, and bars during which to toast to an important day.

If you happen to want extra concepts for exploring Lake Tahoe after your California highway journey, listed below are the finest issues to do in Lake Tahoe!

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a magical vacation spot!

The place To Keep In Lake Tahoe

Reside within the lap of luxurious at The Ritz-Carlton, full with on-site eating places, spas, and a pool with beautiful views of the encompassing mountains.

A keep on the Mom Nature’s Inn comes with free onsite parking, together with inclusive WiFi and Good TV, whereas being near the seashore.

The sprawling Mellow Mountain Hostel is near Heavenly for snowboarding, summertime gondola rides, the seashore, and among the finest motion in South Lake Tahoe.

Day 7 – Sacramento

This drive takes 2 hours from Lake Tahoe

Subsequent in your California highway journey, benefit from the drive from Lake Tahoe by means of the Eldorado Nationwide Forest in your strategy to Sacramento.

Take the time to discover the underrated metropolis the place farm-to-table eating places are rather more than a distinct segment. Take within the historical past and, you probably have power, strive your hand at some enjoyable outside sports activities.

Tradition, historical past, and meals collide in downtown Sacramento. A shocking foodie haven and cocktail paradise, vacationers may even be completely happy to see so many museums and galleries to go to as you’ll uncover beneath.

  • California State Railroad Museum

Inside the Previous Sacramento Historic Park, the California State Railroad Museum is an ode to westward enlargement and the employee’s efforts. The latter notably focuses on the outstanding function of Chinese language railroad employees. Discover 19 genuine trains earlier than touring on one your self.

If you happen to favor to maintain experiencing the state’s splendid nature, head to Discovery Park. It’s right here you possibly can discover certainly one of America’s nice bike trails, the American River Path which spans 32 miles by means of good surroundings.

Add some adrenaline to your California highway journey with some white water rafting. With snow melting from the Sierra Nevada, this a part of California is prime for some adrenaline-pumping rafting on the American River.

In search of extra unbelievable issues to do in Sacramento? Take a look at our final information right here!

The place To Keep In Sacramento

In central Sacramento, the Kimpton Sawyer Lodge, evokes class and offers high-end facilities with a poolside bar and lodge restaurant.

With easy accessibility to downtown, Wyndham Backyard offers an important place to recuperate earlier than with an onsite restaurant and bar, plus free WiFi.

Lower your expenses in your California highway journey with this unbelievable hostel! Nestled in a former Victorian mansion, HI Sacramento offers visitors with a social expertise with a spacious patio and complimentary breakfasts.

Day 8 & 9 – San Francisco

This drive takes 1 hour and 40 minutes from downtown Sacramento

Begin your day early and head in direction of the beautiful California coast, the place you must attain San Francisco by mid-morning. From there, head to the waterfront the place you’ll take pleasure in scrumptious delicacies and epic bay views.

With two days of your California highway journey, take your time in San Francisco, see all of the points of interest, and even take a day journey to Napa Valley.

Day 8:

Canvassing the waterfront of San Francisco, the Embarcadero is the proper place to begin your exploration. As you wander alongside the boulevard you’ll cross a variety of historic piers with wonderful views with many providing boat excursions into the harbor and Alcatraz Island.

With beautiful views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf is a improbable lunch spot. The early fishing boats have lengthy gone and the Dungeness crab is prepared.

Fisherman’s Wharf can be house to the Hyde Avenue Pier and its historic ships.

Take your thoughts away from the famed bridge and also you’ll discover how undulating San Francisco is. We imply, it’s loopy steep. Lombard Avenue represents this finest. House to eight compact turns and delightful landscaping, it’s a singular drive.

Lombard Street
A drive down Lombard Avenue is a enjoyable addition to any California highway journey!

Okay, you’ve been affected person. It’s time for the Golden Gate Bridge. The unbelievable web site, of orange arches unfold between two rising headlands, might be one of the crucial memorable elements of any California highway journey. Admire it from the Presidio earlier than strolling alongside for wonderful views of San Francisco.

Discovering time for Napa Valley with simply two days in San Francisco could be tough. However lovers of wine and charming landscapes ought to make time. An hour north of San Francisco, Napa Valley has over 400 wineries masking a variety of budgets and kinds.

Save time and power throughout your go to to Napa Valley with this half-day wine tour.

If you’d like extra concepts, try our checklist of the finest issues to do in San Francisco!

Day 9:

Your second day in San Francisco is all about nature. Begin with an early morning hike as much as the Twin Peaks. This slice of untouched nature gives splendid from its summit, at 922 ft.

San Francisco’s personal Central Park, Golden Gate Park combines historic structure and attention-grabbing nature. Stroll or journey alongside the miles of trails to find the Dutch Windmill and Japanese Tea Backyard to go alongside its Botanical Backyard.

After a busy morning of mountaineering and biking, take a while to chill out at Ocean Seashore. The three-mile seashore spreads the crowds and permits ample room to soak up the Pacific Ocean, rugged shoreline, and the far horizon.

Having acquired sufficient train and solar on day 9 of your California highway journey, take a while to indulge. Union Sq. is town’s high procuring district and likewise house to the towering Dewy Monument. Afterward, take pleasure in some mouthwatering eats in SF’s famed Chinatown.

Depart room, after all, for a ballpark scorching canine as you finish your second day in San Francisco on the lovely Oracle Park. Set proper on the bay, it’s an important place to catch a recreation of baseball because the solar units to the west.

The place To Keep In San Francisco

The high-end Fairmont Heritage Place offers visitors with luxurious residences with full kitchens and a personal terrace full with a fireplace pit.

Set in Union Sq., Membership Donatello is a four-star lodge with an onsite restaurant, and a rooftop lounge, and is near Oracle Park. Take advantage of your California highway journey itinerary by selecting mid-range lodging proper close to all one of the best points of interest!

Take pleasure in trendy facilities and a energetic environment at ITH Pacific Tradewinds Hostel which is near Chinatown and the San Francisco waterfront.

Check out our checklist of the 25 finest issues to do in Northern California for those who want extra inspiration!

San Francisco
Have a blast exploring San Francisco!

Day 10 – Santa Monica

This drive takes round 9 hours from downtown San Francisco.

After departing San Francisco, you’ll begin wrapping up your California highway journey by looping round and heading again right down to southern California.

Make your method south on a California coast highway journey the place you’ll quickly meet Half Moon Bay and the luxurious fantastic thing about one of the crucial well-known roads in America. We’ve saved one of the best for final!

The Pacific Coast Freeway is full of highlights and epic surroundings just like the well-known Large Sur, making it the proper strategy to finish your California highway journey.

Probably the most iconic roads in America, no California highway journey is full with out a journey down the well-known Pacific Coast Freeway. Sure, you possibly can take this drive from the PNW, however the part between San Francisco and Santa Monica is spotlight packed.

10 minutes from the well-known Monterey, Carmel By the Sea is laden with lovely seaside cottages that result in white sand seashores. Nonetheless, the structure combines with the artwork scene to be the true spotlight. Discover a city as soon as house to Jack London and now over 100 artwork galleries.

The part of Freeway 1 by means of Large Sur is a shock to the senses, in all one of the best methods. From tunnels and Pfeiffer Seashore to the unforgettable Bixby Bridge, Large Sur is possibly probably the most scenic spot on this drive. No California highway journey is full with out driving by means of Large Sur!

You’re nearly carried out along with your California highway journey, so take a break in Santa Barbara! The beautiful city of Santa Barbara is thought for seafood, powdery white sand seashores, and engaging Spanish historical past. Although you might simply spend days in Santa Barbara, for those who’re brief on time you possibly can simply have a fast driving break right here.

There’s no higher strategy to finish your California highway journey itinerary than with a sundown viewing on the Santa Monica Pier. This iconic landmark will seem across the nook as you caress the sting of Malibu alongside Pacific Coast Freeway. Park the automotive and watch the sky develop into ablaze earlier than having fun with among the pier’s rides.

Take a look at all one of the best issues to do in Santa Monica right here.

The place To Keep In Santa Monica

Take pleasure in the great thing about the west coast on the charming Shutters On The Seashore with an onsite restaurant together with surfboard and bike leases.

Take pleasure in free parking, a easy breakfast, an onsite gymnasium, and free WiFi on the Days Inn which is near main routes into LA.

A block again from the famed native seashores HI LA – Santa Monica is prime for the final night time of your California highway journey. They provide a number of enjoyable actions, like a pub crawl and group dinners.

Santa Monica
End your highway journey with a dip within the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica!

California Highway Journey Wrap Up

This California highway journey itinerary takes you across the state, by means of its main cities and finest nationwide parks. You’ll expertise a mixture of civilization, lush landscapes, and lifeless deserts, generally on the identical day.

From the cliffs of Large Sur to the mountains of Yosemite to the seashores of Santa Barbara, there may be a lot to see in California! Even one of the best California highway journeys couldn’t actually embody all of it, however we’ve carried out our greatest to provide you a very good introduction.

Ten days is brief for a west coast highway journey, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing! As a fast and provoking glimpse into the Golden State, it’s the proper platter to determine what you’ll inevitably later discover in better element.

DISCLAIMER: Among the hyperlinks on this article are affiliate hyperlinks, which implies for those who guide lodging, excursions or purchase a product, we’ll obtain a small fee at no further price to you. These commissions assist us preserve creating extra free journey content material to assist individuals plan their holidays and adventures. We solely suggest one of the best lodging, excursions and merchandise, and commonly overview these. Thanks on your assist, form pal!


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