If you had to choose only one of the 50 states for an iconic road trip, California would be it. Known for road tripping, California’s byways and highways wind through dramatic scenery and connect some of the biggest cultural hubs in the United States.
From untouched and untamed nature to the concrete jungle of LA, California is a perfect summary of the best of the USA. As always, you’ll need strategic overnight bases during your trip. Book hotels in the following cities along your way.
There’s no better place to start a California road trip than San Diego, where you can start at the southern end of the state and work your way north. With its beautiful parklands and beaches, affordable hotels, and near-perfect weather all year round, San Diego is the sum of what travelers expect from California.
Be sure to visit the seals at La Jolla Cove and take in the view at the Cabrillo National Monument. With the city’s 17 miles of coastline, you should dedicate at least one day for the beach. If you have extra time, Balboa Park is America’s biggest urban cultural park.
Related: Things to Do in San Diego
An hour and a half from San Diego, Anaheim is home to the happiest place on earth. This is one of the most visited destinations in California, with Disneyland as the city’s crown jewel.
There are trendy outdoor shopping malls, themed hotels, and a very busy convention center. If you’re traveling on a budget, you should consider traveling during less busy times of year and avoid school holidays and international breaks.
It’s a very quick drive to Los Angeles from Anaheim. It’s just half an hour depending on traffic and the time of day, and it wouldn’t be a visit to California without including LA.
Hollywood is one of the main draws, with its iconic Walk of Fame. You can pose with wax celebs at Madame Tussauds or hike to the Hollywood Sign. Sunset Boulevard is central to the LA cultural experience, and it’s where travelers will find restaurants, clubs, shops, and famous hotels.
If you’re looking to catch a TV crew in action, head to Downtown LA. You should also consider taking in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Malibu, along with a sporting game.
The quickest route to San Jose takes four hours, but we highly recommend taking the scenic highway along the coast, which will extend the drive to 5.5 hours.
There’s a lot to see along the way, including Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Pfeiffer Big Sur National Park, and the elephant seals at Monterey. Stop here before proceeding further north through Palo Alto and San Francisco. San Jose is a hub for high-tech businesses, though the town is a great overnight stop with historic charm, a thriving arts and music scene, theatres, galleries, chic restaurants, and cheap hotels.
California is a fantastic option for those considering an American road trip. Base yourself in the above cities and enjoy your stay!
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Photo credits: San Diego CC by Bill Gracey.