Road trips are becoming an increasing popular way to get around larger countries such as the USA as it is a great way to take in the stunning natural scenery, discover classic sites and hidden gems. There are many famous routes you can take to enjoy your USA trip, but here are four amazing California Road Trips not many people know about.
Highway One Classic
The first of our amazing California road trips takes us along California’s spectacular coast, from San Francisco to San Diego. In San Francisco you can explore the famous “City by the Bay” by cable car, ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge or do some shopping downtown before checking out the many bars and restaurants the city has to offer. You can then drive on to Santa Cruz, the birthplace of surfing in California, to watch surfers carve waves or ride on a classic roller coaster at the boardwalk. You can then head to Big Sur to drive along one of the world’s most unforgettable stretches of coastline, where the cliffs plunge into the sea, giant trees soar and whales can be seen in local waters. On this California road trip you can visit Hearst Castle, a remarkable structure perched high on a coastal hilltop in San Simeon, just north of Cambria. Your next stop will be Santa Barbara, fondly known as the “American Riviera” with classic Spanish architecture, a gentle climate, award winning vineyards and big-city arts and entertainment. From Santa Barbara you can then drive on to visit Huntington Beach, a classic beach town where you shop in the stylish boutiques, take a bike ride along the promenade or even learn to surf! Your final stop will be San Diego, where you can see giant pandas at the San Diego zoo or shop in Horton Plaza.
This California Road Trip takes you on a loop from San Francisco, driving through tranquil towns, visiting famous wineries of Napa and Sonoma. On your way would will see the Muir Woods National Monument, where you can follow raised boardwalks to see the famous redwood trees, some more than a century old! From here you can visit Mendocino, a peaceful town situated between thick forests and a restless sea, where you can sip local organic wines and watch the sunset. Humboldt Redwoods State Park will be the next stop on this road trip; here you can hike on 100 miles of pristine trails, camp among majestic redwoods and drive along the Avenue of the Giants, an unforgettable 30 mile stretch of Old Highway 101. You will find rolling hills and valleys nurturing some of the most coveted grapes in the world, at Napa and Sonoma counties; you can choose from hundreds of wineries and tasting rooms offering tours where you can meet the vintners. Visit Oakland, and discover historic areas, great views and a vibrant food and wine scene. Then on to San Jose, California’s third-largest city, the centre of the booming, tech-focused Silicon Valley. Your last stop of this road trip is San Francisco.
You start this road trip at sunny Los Angeles, where you can hit the city for non-stop entertainment action, famous artefacts at the Grammy Museum and a back lot tour of Universal Studios Hollywood. Your next stop is Anaheim, the Disneyland resort that includes Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. You can then drive on to San Diego where you can visit pretty parks and waterways, enjoy a progressive art scene and great cuisine. You can then visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is still being altered by erosion and flash floods, before heading to Temecula where you can enjoy tasting the finest wines being made since the 1970s. Next stop is Palm Springs where you can visit art galleries and check out the mid-century modern architecture and even indulge in high-end shopping. Joshua Tree National Park will be your next visit on this road trip, where you will find rugged mountains, stunning sunsets, starry skies and deserts dotted with gnarled, unusual looking trees. You can end your road trip in the hottest, driest spot in USA – Death Valley National Park. In this huge park, you will see mountain-size sand dunes, salt flats that are below sea level and colourful sandstone canyons.
Los Angeles to San Francisco
Start in coastal Santa Monica, with its wide beach and signature pier, the head to Beverly Hills for high-end shopping and farther east to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then on to Mammoth Lakes where you can ski the magnificent slopes in winter and spring. In the warm months, fly-fish, hike and mountain bike through wildflowers in high alpine meadows. Mono Lake is the next stop on this road trip; here you can see eerie mineral towers edging one-million-year-old Mono Lake, the salty remnant of an ancient inland sea. Following Mono Lake, you can visit Yosemite National Park and discover cascading waterfalls, vast grassy meadows and take a guided tour that can range from 2 hours to a full day. Plymouth will be the next port of call, and here you can experience wine tours, wine tasting and restaurants specialising in wine country cuisine. Lake Tahoe is another must see spot of natural beauty, where you can sail, kayak and paddleboard in the summer, and ski or snowboard in the winter months. Then drive on to Sacramento, a low key, bicycle friendly state capital which is full of microbreweries, gastropubs and trendy boutiques and restaurants. Your final stop of this road trip is San Francisco.