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14 Best Road Trips in California (+ Scenic Drives)

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Looking for the best California road trips? In this article, we’ll be talking about the top places to visit in the state on a road trip.

Road tripping is a fun activity to do with your family and friends and a great way to explore a new destination. California is a truly majestic place to tour by road, filled with sites to see and stories to liv on the way that will make your journey an unforgettable experience.

14 Best Road Trips in California (+ Scenic Drives)

So, let us help you come up with the best California road trip itinerary. We have created the perfect guide covering the best California road trips in the region.

Northern California Road Trip

If you’re looking to take in the stunning, natural diversity that California is known for, a Northern California road trip is the right way to do it.

From beautiful beaches to redwood forests, from vineyards to mountains to natural parks, you can savor a multitude of natural views when you take to the roads of Northern California.

This part of California is much different from the city-centric, glamorous vibes you’ll find in Hollywood. Not many people realize just how huge California is, and the natural diversity that comes with it is breathtaking.

Let’s break down some of the stunning things you can see and do during a Northern California road trip:

1. San Francisco to Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

San Francisco is famous for its astounding views, and to the north, Mt. Shasta is famous as a California 14er (a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet). It’s located on a potentially active volcanic plate at the edge of the Cascade Range.

The trip from San Francisco to Mount Shasta is a 5-hour journey north, averaging around 290 miles. This road trip is a great one to take over 3 to 5 days in the summer. This time frame lets you take advantage of the sunshine and stunning views you’ll encounter along the way.

How to get there?

To drive from San Francisco to Mount Shasta, take Highway 8 towards Sacramento. This will fast-track you to Interstate 5 (but you will run into some toll roads).

You might want to rent a recreational vehicle (RV) for your California road trip from San Francisco. As a bonus, check out the guide we created for you before renting one.

An RV is a great choice for groups due to its space efficiency, and it also provides bed space accommodation, which saves you money since you don’t have to rent expensive hotel rooms.

What to do?

Once you arrive at Mount Shasta, there’s plenty to see and do during your stay!

Many visitors like to hike the Black Butte Trail, a 5.2-mile trail that leads you to a summit with stunning, 360-degree views. Other trails include the McCloud River Trail (where you’ll see three waterfalls!), Heart Lake Trail, Spring Hill Trail, Horse Camp Trail, and Panther Meadows Trail.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Mount Shasta also has dedicated areas for sports such as mountain biking, river rafting, and rock climbing, as well as off-roading, boating, and fishing. There are areas dedicated to tennis and golf in the summer, and in the winter, you can go skiing or snowboarding. The surrounding areas also feature camping spots.

While summer is the best time to take advantage of these outdoor adventures, there’s plenty to do in both the summer and winter. This is why San Francisco to Shasta is one of the ideal road trips you can take in California, no matter the time of year. 

See Related: Rental Cars That You Can Take Out of State

2. Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley – NorCal Road trip

Vineyard in Napa Valley

This road trip is perfect for all wine lovers. As you explore the wine-making process from vine to bottle, you’ll become even more appreciative of what goes into every glass of wine you drink.

The entire road trip is easily accessible from San Francisco, starting from Napa Valley and circulating through the Sonoma Valley.

The small towns you can visit on this day trip are home to 600 wineries. The best time to visit these wineries would be during the fall harvest season.

How to get there?

Start your journey from San Francisco by heading north on Highway 121, which leads you to the quaint town of Napa.

Towards the northeast end of Highway 121, you can either choose to travel past various springs or turn north to drive through the Silverado Trail, which ends in Calistoga. You can head to Sonoma via the connecting highway between Calistoga Road and Highway 12.

What to do?

Both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley have plenty of things to see and do, especially for wine lovers.

In the gorgeous Napa Valley, many visitors tour popular winery estates such as Hess Persson Estates or Pine Ridge Vineyards. If wine isn’t your thing, though, Napa Valley offers self-guided art walks, spas, hiking, a thriving nightlife scene, shopping, and much more.

Sonoma Valley is also known for its wineries, with Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and Cline Cellars being two of the most popular. Sonoma also is home to a number of stunning beaches, hiking trails, rivers, state parks, and restaurants, with plenty of options for those looking for an outdoorsy adventure.

In both Napa and Sonoma valley, traveling by RV is an ideal choice! Many wineries offer camping grounds, meaning you can hit the winery during the day and stay comfortable in your RV at night.

See Related: Best Travel Cooler for Road Trips

3. The Best of Northern California: Highway 128

Highway 138

When you take a California road trip along Highway 128, you run east to west from the Sacramento Valley to the Mendocino coast. This means you can explore some of the more iconic locations Northern California has to offer. From giant redwood forests to delicious seafood in Michelin-starred restaurants, there is plenty to discover.

How to get there?

This Northern California road trip will take you from Winters to Elk, traveling along Highway 128. This is a 3- to 4-day journey that leads you from Yolo County west into the gorgeous Vaca Mountains.

You’ll begin on Highway 128, following it as it guides you into Napa Valley and through the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga. Eventually, you’ll meet a two-way roadway that connects Highway 128 to Highway 101 for the rest of the journey.

What to do?

You’ll find plenty of amazing scenery and exciting attractions along this 140-mile route! You start your trip in the agricultural town of Winters, which has plenty of breweries to visit, including Berryessa, a local favorite. As you keep driving, you’ll also encounter some other cool food and drink spots such as Nichelini Family Winery, one of the oldest family wineries in Napa.

When you’re ready to stretch your legs, you can have some adventures in the great outdoors! Take some time to explore and hike through Hendy Woods State Park. This is an amazing hike, especially for those who want to take in California’s redwood trees. You’ll get to pass through an 11-mile-long tunnel of redwood trees, offering some stunning scenery.

See Related: Things to Do in Idyllwild, California

California National Parks Road Trip

Yoshmite National Park in California

Another great way to take in the natural wonders of California is by visiting the wide range of National Parks found across the state. By visiting California national parks, you can take in all kinds of wildlife, foliage, and different kinds of terrain. From the rocky terrain of Joshua Tree to the redwoods in Sequoia, there are plenty of great options!

There are 9 different national parks in California. These include:

  • Yosemite National Park: This stunning, northern California park is home to waterfalls, forest hikes and rock climbing.
  • Death Valley National Park: Near the California-Nevada border, this park is home to flat sand dunes and a distinct desert feel.
  • Joshua Tree National Park: East of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is known for its hiking, its massive boulders, its unique Joshua trees, and views of the nearby mountains.
  • Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park: These two parks, which are side by side in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, are known for their tall sequoia trees, meadows and rivers.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park: Found in northeast California, this park features lava rock, hot springs, and unique volcanoes.
  • Pinnacles National Park: This park, east of the Salinas Valley, is characterized by unique rock formations, wildflowers, caverns, and canyons.
  • Redwood National Park: Located in the north, this park is known for its old-growth redwood trees and is home to some of the tallest, oldest redwoods in the world. It also has rivers, waterfalls, and sprawling grass areas.
  • Channel Islands National Park: Found off the Pacific coast, this park is made up of eight islands teeming with wildlife. Come for hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and stunning ocean views!

It’s not just national parks that make California great, though. Smaller state parks worth visiting include the gorgeous Crystal Cove State Park and Castle Crags State Park.

See Related: Things to Do in Pasadena, California 

4. Eastern Sierras Road Trip

Sierra Mountains California

The trip from Lone Pine to South Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful California road trips. The journey to Lake Tahoe is a 4-hour road trip, 232 miles from Lone Pine. You should plan on 4 to 5 days to explore the region.

How to get there?

Lone Pine is situated between Sequoia National Park and Death Valley National Park. For most of your journey, you’ll have to stick to Highway 395 as you head into the Sierra Nevadas.

Highway 395 takes you to Topaz Lake, where you’ll turn onto Highway 89, which will take you directly to South Lake Tahoe.

What to do?

The best part about this road trip is that there are many sites to explore with rich historical significance. You can detour Highway 168 to see prehistoric sites in the Sierra Nevadas.

Manzanar National Historic Site features a monument built to honor Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps there during World War II.

In the 40s, Manzanar confined over 10,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants, an act fueled by anti-Asian sentiment formed during the war. This camp was closed after the war ended, but an official apology wasn’t issued until the 1980s. Today, Manzanar is a national historic site, so visitors can learn about this piece of history. 

Further onto Highway 395, you will come across beautiful ski resorts on Mammoth Mountain. You’ll also pass Mono Lake, which is popular for its mud-like rock appearance.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort has some of the best skiing in the state, with 150 different runs, 25 lifts, and 3,500 acres of skiable terrain. The resort’s non-skiing activities include gondola rides, mountain hikes, snowmobile rides, bowling, full spas, and more.  

Cut through on Highway 89, and finish the day by soaking up some sun at the shores of South Lake Tahoe. Here you can explore Lake Tahoe on private cruises, go for a sunset hike along the Rubicon trail, swim at Lake Tahoe beach, or enjoy local restaurants and casinos for a relaxing evening.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Northern California

5. Sacramento to Eureka

Redwoods National Park

The road trip from Sacramento to Eureka is a great one, especially for those who like to spend time outdoors! You’ll find plenty of campgrounds and RV spots along this route, and many of them are pet-friendly.

Stop to check out the hidden hiking spots scattered along this 400-mile drive. Depending on how many stops you make along the way, this drive should take you 3 to 10 days.

How to get there?

Head northwest from Sacramento to start your road trip toward Clear Lake. Once you finish enjoying the vibrant views of Clear Lake, head northwest towards Eureka, where you can see the classic California redwoods or backpack the Lost Coast Trail.

As many of the activities to see and do are outdoors, we highly recommend taking this road trip between April and November to avoid harsh winter weather.

What to do?

Once you reach Clear Lake, take a long stroll on the Indian Nature Trail. On this hike, you can follow a self-guided discovery trail to learn all about the natural resources used by the Pomo Indians. You’ll learn more about local plant life and see some stunning valley views. Once you’re done, end your walk with a glass of cabernet sauvignon made from grapes grown in the region.

Another hike you can try takes you through Redwoods National Park, exploring one of the most majestic ecosystems in the world. You’ll have lots of campgrounds to choose from throughout the park, as well as hiking trails that will take you to protected tree groves. You could also spend time by the water at Gold Bluffs Beach or take a picnic at Elk Meadow.

You can also get a glimpse into the past when you visit the Victorian houses in Eureka County, which date back to the 18th Century.

See Related: Things to Do in Calabasas, California

6. Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley

This route from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park offers you plenty to do and see. The most direct route will take slightly more than 5 hours — not including all the stops you undoubtedly will make along the way.

How to get there?

The fastest route will take you through California’s San Joaquin Valley via I-5. Take it north to Fresno, where you can connect to CA-41.

What to do?

There’s a reason Los Angeles is one of the USA’s top tourist destinations! Before you begin your road trip, you’ll find plenty of famous attractions to explore in LA.

Like theme parks? Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain are two amazing parks waiting for you! Or visit the Santa Monica Pier to ride a Ferris wheel while taking in some ocean views.

You could also explore the glamorous look and feel of Hollywood! You can take a selfie of yourself with the Hollywood sign in the background, then do some celebrity sighting with a Studio Tour at Warner Brothers, or check out the commemorative stars lining the streets on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Other tourist attractions in and near Los Angeles include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Griffith Observatory, Sunset Boulevard, and much more.

Once you’ve had enough of the city, your road trip will take you on some more natural adventures. Once you make it to Yosemite National Park, you can take in the gorgeous Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan, and do plenty of hiking and rock climbing. Plan ahead to reserve campsites and dedicated RV spots in the park, and don’t miss the Yosemite Museum, Ansel Adams Gallery, Ahwanee Lodge, and more.

See Related:  Things to Do in Irvine, California

7. The Majestic Mountain Loop

Majestic Mountain Loop

If you want to visit three national parks in three days, take the Majestic Mountain Loop road trip. You can visit Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite on this adventure-filled route.

How to get there?

The Majestic Mountain Loop is an iconic California road trip. To begin, start your journey in Visalia, near Sequoia, to visit Sequoia National Park. You can stay the day and camp there.

Next, depart and travel to Kings Canyon National Park, spending the night in the Lone Pine area. Finally, depart for Yosemite, to take in your last National Park.

What to do?

Once in Sequoia, you can climb Moro Rock. This quarter-mile steep climb offers stunning views. Once that’s checked off, just hop back into your car and take a drive through Sequoia’s Tunnel Log. It is an iconic road where a 2,000-year-old tree fell. It is now a tunnel you can drive through.

Next up, see the world’s largest tree! The General Sherman Tree is 275 feet tall and can be found by way of the half-mile Main Trail in Sequoia National Park. This giant sequoia tree was named after Civil War General Willam Tecumseh Sherman.

Next, go underground at Boyden Cavern near Kings Canyon. You can take a 50-minute walking tour to see the inside of this cavern, going underground to view stalagmites and stalactites.  The cavern is open from late May through early November.

When moving from Kings Canyon to Yosemite, you can go on other outdoor adventures, like hiking Zumwalt Meadow to see giant granite walls. You can also try bike rentals closer to Yosemite, biking through Curry Village.

Other things to do while exploring the Majestic Mountain Loop include hiking the Mist Trail in Yosemite and watching the sunset at Yosemite’s Glacier Point. Interested? Take a guided tour through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

See Related: Things to Do in Red Bluff, California

8. Cajon Pass to Big Bear

Big Bear California

The entire journey through the Cajon Pass and up to Big Bear is 117 miles and is approximately a 5-hour drive. It’s a gorgeous drive, taking you past green forests and different towering mountains.

We highly recommend the drive for those in RVs or micro-cabin RV cars. It’s a great way to take it all in and always feel at home right where you are.

How to get there?

Coming out of the Cajon Pass, you’ll want to take the scenic Highway 18 east into the San Bernardino Mountains and up the mountain to the town of Big Bear Lake.

What to do?

The San Bernardino Mountains are often referred to as the Alps of Southern California due to their tremendous views and abundance of skiing and snowboarding opportunities. One popular place to stay is Big Bear Lake, home to the Big Bear Mountain Resort, known for its skiing and snowboarding in the winter, as well as golfing, hiking, biking, zip lines, and more during the summer. 

You can also trek the Pacific Coast Trail if you make a detour on route 173. The trail covers a total distance of 76 miles, and you will get to see views of Big Bear Lake.

A nice, warm cabin in the center of Big Bear after a long day of hiking is the perfect way to end the day. This Big Bear Retreat is a great cabin, just 15 minutes away from Snow Summit at Metcalf Bay. 

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Los Angeles?

9. Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

A road trip from Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park is a very popular California road trip, especially in the spring. This trip will have you driving through some impressive mountains, with plenty of campground stops along the way. This is a 188-mile journey and can be as fast as 3 hours with a few stops along the way.

How to get there?

The journey begins in Redding, a small city in the Sacramento Valley. You will have to travel north on I-5 past Mount Shasta. Cross Highway 89, heading for the foothills of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

What to do?

Lassen Volcanic National Park is an underrated California park, with a lot to see and do every season! You can take a scenic drive along the 30-mile Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway to see views of Emerald Lake, Lake Helen, and the mountains.  Or you can go into the park to enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, and camping.

Of course, the most popular thing to do here is take in the surreal volcanoes. This park is home to all four kinds of volcanoes (shield, cinder cone, plug dome, composite) situated among the lakes and meadows.

To get the most out of this park, we recommend planning a stay for several days, camping, or staying in an RV! That way, you have the time you need to take in everything there is to see here.

See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the World

More to Do on a California Road Trip

california trip

We have a few more California road trips to add to your bucket list! The trips we outline here connect various iconic locations found throughout California. If you take any of these trips, you’ll be able to see some of the best places California has to offer!

From Big Sur to Palm Springs, the road trips we outline here reflect both nature and city living. They truly speak to the diversity of California, with its many different kinds of lifestyles. 

See Related: Restaurants in Dana Point, California

10. Los Angeles to Palm Springs – SoCal Road Trip

Palm Springs, California

When making a road trip from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, don’t miss out on the hidden gems along your way. If you love sports and other fun-filled activities, this is the road trip for you.

Palm Springs is known to host sporting events including golf, tennis, and horseback riding tournaments throughout the year, making it a great destination for those who enjoy watching or playing these sports. Ruth Hardy Park is a great spot to play a game of basketball or tennis and then relax with a picnic.

It’s also a great place to visit if you have ever wanted to explore the desert! The desert rarely sees the sight of rain, so it is a great place to hike with your friends and family during the cooler months. Fun excursions also include biking or off-road desert Jeep tours. 

How to get there?

The entire distance from Los Angeles to Palm Springs is 110 miles without any stops. Depending on the traffic, it can take you a total of 2 to 4 hours on the road. After leaving Los Angeles, make a beeline toward Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains. Continue on I-10 East to reach Palm Springs.

What to do?

You can find many amazing things people can see and do in Palm Springs, which offers equal parts chic sophistication and outdoor adventuring.

If you like the outdoors, head a little further to Joshua Tree National Park! Here you can see the Cholla Cactus Garden, or take a hike to Keys View to take in a stunning view of the Coachella Valley. You could also visit the Coachella Valley Preserve for hiking trails through desert sand dunes and palm tree oases.

If you’re less inclined to outdoor adventuring, visit tourist attractions such as The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, the Palm Spring Art Museum, or the Moorten Botanical Garden. You can also partake in great nightlife, taking in some live music and entertainment and eating at world-class restaurants.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, just check out this video we made on YouTube!

Palm Springs, California: Things to Do and See [4K HD]

11. San Diego to Coachella Valley

Joshua Tree National Park

The road trip between San Diego and Coachella Valley is another fun journey. This road trip will take you away from the city and into the desert, covering 600 miles over 4 to 7 days of driving and exploring.

The best time to take this trip is in spring when the weather is tolerable for outdoor activities and the desert starts to bloom. This is one of the best California road trips to see Southern California deserts.

How to get there?

To start this journey, we begin in San Diego. You can drive from here to Carlsbad to spend a day taking in beach views or visit Legoland California! From there, we continue to drive through Southern California to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

Along the way, there will be plenty of stops you can make. You can pull off to visit wineries such as Belle Marie Winery, or hit up Big Horn Canyon Ranch. They are all stops along the way!

See RelatedJoshua Tree Itinerary

What to do?

Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is a great idea! Here you can do some hiking or take a self-guided audio tour as you explore the park.

If you like art, and you arrive in the spring, you could also visit the increasingly popular art exhibit Desert X. This installation, which is totally free to visit, presents a strong message on climate change and social culture.

As spring turns into summer, it’s time for the immensely popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — but make sure to buy your tickets well in advance! Or you can take in attractions such as Cabot’s Pueblo Museum or the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, or you could even go on a hot air balloon ride.

See Related: Best Vacations in the Southwestern United States

California Coast Road Trip

California is home to one of the most spectacular shorelines in the world. Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best ways to see stunning coastal views of the Pacific Ocean.

Along the California coast, you’ll find amazing cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, while viewing inspiring landscapes such as Big Sur. In addition to the stunning views on this drive, you’ll also be able to pull off and explore some of California’s most exciting places.

To drive the entire California coastline, you’ll need at least a week (maybe two) if you want to spend do it right. Of course, you don’t have to do the entire coastline in one trip. Consider smaller, more manageable trips up part of the coast if you have more limited time available.

12. Dana Point to Leggett (The Pacific Coast Highway Road trip)

Pacific Coast Highway

The drive between Dana Point and Leggett is a 656-mile trip! Dana Point is considered the “start” of the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as PCH, making it a great place to begin a road trip.

To make the most of the drive, we recommend making a detour at Pismo Beach and taking time to see the Point Reyes Lighthouse. There are also some great restaurants to visit along the way, including near the Point Reyes National Seashore.

How to get there?

To start this journey, you’ll begin in Dana Point. All you’ll need to do is get onto the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll take this road for most of the journey, before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to get on the 101.

From there, you can keep heading north toward Leggett! The whole journey with no stops is over 10 hours, meaning with stops along the way, it could take you a minimum of two or three days.

What to do?

This long drive will take you past a lot of the California coastline, with different tourist attractions to hit along the way. If you plan your road trip in October and February, stop at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. There are over 10,000 butterflies that migrate to the beach every year.

Another must-see on PCH is Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Stay in nearby Cambria and book tours to visit all parts of this lavish estate (and keep an eye out for zebras grazing on the rolling hills).

You can also stop to explore San Francisco, which comes up about two-thirds of the way through your journey. While there you can visit Union Square, the San Francisco Museum of Art or Ocean Beach. And you’ll get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge as you leave the city!

Once in Legget, it’s time to explore the great outdoors. Many people like to drive under the Chandelier Drive-Through Tree, a popular road trip landmark. You can also visit the Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area for camping and hiking.

See Related: Things to Do in Palo Alto, California

13. Big Sur Road Trip

Big Sur Road

On this Big Sur road trip, you will experience the many wonders the California coast offers. Here we will travel along legendary Highway 1, journeying the 93 miles between Hearst Castle and the town of Carmel. Along this route, you will see the famous cliffs that are part of the Big Sur region.

Big Sur extends about 20 miles inland. Here you will find nature parks and other protected areas. You can also explore the beaches and forests while enjoying the picturesque views. If you love hiking trails and want to stretch your legs, this is the place to do that.

How to get there?

To get to Big Sur from San Francisco or Los Angeles, take Highway 1, or Pacific Coast Highway from the north or south. From Los Angeles, the drive is around 6 hours driving nonstop. San Francisco is a bit closer, with the driver only taking around 3 hours.

What to do?

The drive from Los Angeles to Big Sur will take you past some fun things to do! If you need a break from the car, you can take a stop at Ventura Beach or spend an afternoon in nature at the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area.

If you want to take a break along the way, Santa Barbara is a great place to stop partway through the trip. We recommend the Santa Barbara Inn if you’re a fan of luxurious hotels with great amenities. While you’re there, visit attractions like Santa Barbara Beach and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

We also love the Marina Beach Motel! This accommodation is just 3 minutes away from the water and offers a great view of the bay.

Once in Big Sur, there’s lots to do and see. The Bixby Creek Bridge is the most popular bridge in the region. It sits 279 feet above the water and offers amazing views. Another place to visit is the Point Sur Lighthouse, one of the most famous lighthouses in the state.

There are also over 80 hiking trails to choose from and panoramic ocean views to take in. McWay Falls Overlook Trail and Partington Cove Trail are just two of the more popular trails.

See Related: Things to Do in Burbank, California

14. The Perfect Coastal Road Trip

Historic Route California 101

If you are feeling adventurous and have some time, consider going on a 10-day California coastal road trip. Here are a few of the stops you can expect along the way:

How to get there?

Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is the best route to take because it runs directly along the Pacific Ocean for almost 800 miles. With a few gaps, it stretches from San Diego to the Oregon border, providing views of California that are unlike any other drive in the state

What to do?

Here is just a small list of places to hit up and things you can do just in the San Francisco and Central Coast portions of the trip.

  • San Francisco to Santa Rosa: Take a quick detour through the wine country and enjoy your drive after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Jump on Highway 101, have some wine and delicious food in Santa Rosa, and enjoy the views of all the vineyards.
  • Santa Cruz: Pass through Pacifica, go for a stroll along the beach, enjoy one of the largest wooden roller coasters in the world at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and visit Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero.
  • Carmel by the Sea: On your way to Carmel by the Sea, stop over in Monterey and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. Next, take a trip down 17 Mile Drive, hugging the coast. Go for a wine tasting at Blair Estates Winery and enjoy the small-town vibes.
  • Carmel to Big Sur: Stop by Point Lobos State Park for a hike, and start the 60-minute drive to Big Sur. Take your time on this route and enjoy the scenery.

These routes don’t even cover everything you can do when taking a California coastal road trip. It is just a small sampling of the amazing sights you can explore and things you can do.

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