California Roadtrip

It is the ultimate dream of freedom and adventure – a California road trip to the most beautiful destinations in the Golden State and other West Coast states. But what do you have to consider and which route should you take to make your adventure unforgettable?

Are you among those who put a California road trip at the top of their bucket list? Just follow the call of the road, drive wherever you want, stop if you feel like it, here today, there tomorrow. Surfing in Santa Barbara, sightseeing in San Francisco, hiking in Yosemite National Park, gambling in Las Vegas, continuing on Route 66 to Los Angeles and and and and – just the key dates of the upcoming trip will make the heart of every USA fan beat faster.

Today I’ll tell you my personal favorite route, which will take you not only to the most beautiful destinations in California, but also to many other highlights on the West Coast.

Los Angeles – City of Angels & Stars

My California road trip starts in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. LA is not only the home of almost four million people, but also the adopted home of many Hollywood stars. Names like Beverly Hills, Walk of Fame and Hollywood make us think directly of the glittering celebrity world we know from television.

But Los Angeles can do even more! Eating hippie street food downtown, strolling and chilling on Venice Beach and enjoying the views of Griffith Park and the legendary nightlife of West Hollywood are just some of the activities that should be on your LA agenda.

Trips to the city of Santa Monica, 25 kilometers away, made famous by the Baywatch series, or to the city of Malibu, 50 kilometers away and well known to every Two and Half Men fan, are also possible with a rental car and can be easily built into the California road trip (on the way to Malibu you can even drive a few miles on the famous Highway 1, which of course is a must on a California road trip). After two to three days in the City of Angels you should grab your rental car and drive 155 kilometers from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara – Along the American Riviera

After only a few kilometers on the US-101 N you have escaped the hectic hustle and bustle of the megacity Los Angeles and for the first time you can get something like a real road trip feeling.

If the first part of the route to Santa Barbara takes you inland, you’ll have to drive 50 kilometres along the coast from Ventura until you finally arrive in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, which is ideal for relaxing for a day or two and starting your holiday. Beaches that are perfect for surfing and swimming, a promenade where you can walk or cycle, and many restaurants where you can try out the delicious and freshly caught seafood from the region – sounds like a holiday, doesn’t it?

Another highlight awaits you in Santa Barbara, where you can start a whale watching tour from May to October that will take you to places off the coast where blue and humpback whales are often spotted. Such a tour usually takes 4-5 hours and costs around $100 per person.

After a few days our California Roadtrip takes us to the 175 kilometers distant small coastal town of Morro Bay, where no less Californian holiday feeling awaits you.

Morro Bay – The Gibraltar of the Pacific Ocean

When you arrive in Morro Bay, you can continue your sweet holiday life by relaxing on one of the vast Pacific beaches overlooking Morro Rock or visit one of the parks where you can have a real American BBQ or just hike through nature.

Various museums and galleries give Morro Bay an artistic flair that can be felt throughout the city, especially during the summer months when various events and festivals take place in the heart of the city. The Hearst Castle, a magnificent castle that has been converted into a museum and is located about halfway between Morro Bay and the next destination of the road trip, Monterey, is particularly worth seeing.

Monterey and the 17-Mile Drive

Our way to Monterey always leads us along the coast along the legendary Highway 1, which probably stands like no other for the freedom that constitutes a California road trip. You’ll notice: 230 kilometers sound like a lot at first, but the beautiful coastal landscape and the places that pass you on California State Route 1 make time and distance fly by. Attention: At the moment Highway 1 in California is largely closed due to a landslide, so you have to switch to other roads.

After a stopover at the famous Hearst Castle and a drive over the spectacular 85 meter high Bixby Creek Arch Bridge, you will finally reach Monterey after another 200 kilometers. The city, where fishing once dominated people’s daily lives, is now a popular tourist destination, as you can drive directly from Monterey to 17-Mile Drive, one of California’s most famous coastlines, which you shouldn’t miss on your California road trip.

Golf courses, vantage points, and vast fields define the scenery you’ll pass on the 17-Mile Drive, stopping you every few miles for great photos. What I really liked about it was just sitting at the lookout, listening to the screeching seagulls and watching the enormous waves break.

San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge & Alcatraz

“If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair!” This song of your roadtrip playlist should be turned up loud as we approach San Francisco, the city of Silicon Valley, the cable cars and the torn jeans.

Whether on a sightseeing tour on foot or by bike – there are some sights in California’s fourth largest city that you simply must have seen! These attractions include Lombard Street, one of the most spectacular streets in the world, Alcatraz Prison Island, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf, with its many restaurants and bars, which is a Mecca for night owls.

If you’re also interested in Google and more, you can visit the legendary Silicon Valley, the birthplace of many famous global players, and get a whiff of real start-up air. Even today, the region and Stanford University are among the most innovative places in the world.

Attention: Due to the proximity to Silicon Valley the prices in San Francisco are a bit higher, but you can still find cheap hostels or airbnbs here. Take free city tours to save money and get to know the city better. After two to three days in San Francisco the street calls again, it goes into the wilderness!

Yosemite National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The California Roadtrip goes east, to one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA, the Yosemite, which fascinates the visitors with endless expanses, giant sequoias, breathtaking gorges and a great variety of species.

The entrance fee to the park is $30 per vehicle or $15 per person if you want to explore parts of the park on foot. You can visit Yosemite National Park all year round, but some trails or areas may be closed in winter. Pack enough water and sturdy shoes so that the walk through the nature of the park does not become a torture! 😉

If you are looking for the ultimate experience, I recommend you to stay overnight at one of the campsites in the park, on many of them you can decide spontaneously and without reservation, only during the summer months July and August advance booking is recommended.

Tip: If you plan to visit the Yosemite National Park in winter, you can look forward to a special phenomenon, because then the Horsetail Fall, one of the most famous waterfalls of the park, shines in a special golden light. Simply magical!

Las Vegas – a glittering metropolis in the desert

I hope you have had a good rest during your time in Yosemite National Park, because now we have a little further to go on our California roadtrip. To be more precise, the California Roadtrip is now even a small Nevada Roadtrip, because the destination of our trip is Las Vegas, the Sin City, which somehow should not be missing on such a trip.

Almost 600 kilometres separate the National Park from Las Vegas, which runs through the famous Death Valley. It is advisable that you divide the route into two stages and stop in one of the small villages in between. But the long way is worth it! If you think Las Vegas is only for gamblers, you’re wrong, because here you can go for almost any pleasure that comes to your mind: a visit to a magician show, a ride on the roller coaster high up on the Stratosphere Towers, a ride with the largest Ferris wheel in the world, or, or, or.

As you can see, the attractions in Las Vegas serve many tastes. Of course, nights à la Hangover are not uncommon, thanks to the great nightlife on the Strip! Attention: To make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises when you check out, you should always keep the resort fee in mind, which is charged in most hotels in Vegas. You can find out what this fee is and what it is for in my encyclopedia. I hope you haven’t gambled away your entire travel budget in Las Vegas, because we haven’t arrived at the end of our road trips yet.