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Taking a break from the drive to check out the coast in Ventura, California
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California: Road Trip Paradise

There's no place quite like California for an epic road trip.

Scroll on to dream up your next vacation, built from trip and experience ideas that showcase different takes on the legendary California story. Travel through upscale coastal towns, vibrant cities and charming neighborhood districts to discover rich history, unique culture and outdoor wonders. Surf, hike, dine, sip and play your way through California.

Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, California
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Explore More Road Trips

Sunset at Mono Lake highlights the beauty of this ancient body of water

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Overlooking Bodega Bay in Sonoma County on a California road trip

Offbeat, Fresh and Iconic: 4 Sides of California from North to South

There’s no doubt about it – California is one of the most distinctive, iconic and diverse states in all of the USA.

Morning surf excursion on Emma Wood State Beach

West Coast Icons: Southern California, Yosemite and San Francisco

Everything you’ve heard about California is true.

Mountain and ocean views along the Pacific Coast Highway in California

City Lights to Country Skies: Drive California's Pacific Coast Highway

What makes a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway is the sheer variety it offers – in views, activities, urban attractions and natural wonders.


California’s Central Coast: Natural and Cultural Wonders Road Trip

It’s hard to imagine a more iconic beach road trip than the one along California’s coast.


Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

Explore California’s stunning coastline from San Francisco to San Diego

California Road Trip Highlights

View of the Pacific Ocean from Dana Point Headlands in California

Dana Point

This southern Orange County city boasts picture-perfect beaches, luxury resorts, a seaside golf course and plenty of access to the Pacific Ocean. Hike along blufftop trails offering sweeping ocean views, soak in the sun at Salt Creek Beach, learn how to surf at Doheny State Beach, or go on an boating excursion from Dana Point Harbor.

Enjoying a dip in Monarch Hot Springs with mountain and desert views in Greater Palm Springs, California
Visit Greater Palm Springs

Greater Palm Springs

Long the desert playground of the rich and famous, Greater Palm Springs is a veritable open-air museum of mid-century modern architecture. See the sumptuous resorts, iconic homes and hot spots that celebrities frequent, and don’t miss a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The world’s largest rotating tram car soars up four kilometers from the desert floor to the mountain top of Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

Interior view of the Anaheim Packing District food hall in California


Have your mouse ears ready for a bucket-list trip to Disneyland Resort, the original Disney theme park in Anaheim. Next door is Disney’s California Adventure, perfect for the rollercoaster lover in your group. Foodies, take your appetite over to Anaheim’s Packing District. This bustling food hall is full of creative world flavors, along with craft breweries and trendy bars.

Rooftop views from The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills in California

West Hollywood

For true Hollywood-style nightlife and shopping, there’s no place quite like West Hollywood (aka WeHo). Much of the action is centered on the Sunset Strip, where you can catch a concert at the legendary Whiskey A Go Go, Viper Room or Roxy Theatre or grab a drink on the rooftop bar at the Mondrian. Feast your eyes on cutting-edge trends in art, beauty and fashion in the Design District.

View of Ventura and the Pacific Ocean from Ventura Botanical Gardens in California


Ventura, a classic California beach town located an hour northwest of Los Angeles, is packed with photo op: the historic Serra Cross and panoramic ocean views at Grant Park; the circa-1782 San Buenaventura Mission; and bird’s-eye views of downtown from Ventura Botanical Gardens. From Ventura Harbor, grab a boat ride out to Channel Islands National Park for hiking, kayaking and backcountry camping at “North America’s Galapagos.”

Posing on horseback in front of Morro Bay in California

San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo County’s enviable coastline is made for road trips. Cruise down Highway 1, snapping frame-ready photos of the craggy cliffs and dreamy beaches along the way. Explore the jaw-dropping luxury of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, the estate of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Morro Bay is famous for sea kayaking and the ancient volcanic rock, known as the Gibraltar of the Pacific, jutting out of the waves.

Looking up at giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Madera

California’s central inland region is dominated by the natural marvel that is Yosemite National Park, and Yosemite Madera makes an excellent gateway. Two must-sees are Tunnel View, a stunning vista of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls; and Mariposa Grove, Yosemite’s largest stand of giant sequoias with more than 500 mature trees. Beyond the park is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the USA, with 10 local wineries to enjoy along the Madera Wine Trail.

Tufa formations in Mono Lake in Mono County, California

Mono County

In Mono County, your first activity should be kayaking amid eerie tufa towers on Mono Lake. You can also ski at Mammoth Mountain, rock climb at Owens River Gorge, fish at Crowley Lake, or hike part of the 4,265-kilometer Pacific Crest Trail. The June Lake Scenic Loop abounds with mountain towns and lakeside photo ops, while the ghost town of Bodie preserves a bit of Gold Rush history.

A woman walking a dog surrounded by a stunning Tri-Valley, California, landscape
Derek Gaumer


Explore delicious food and drink in the Tri-Valley region, located just east of San Francisco. Follow the Tri-Valley Beer Trail to sample sips at nearly 20 craft breweries and alehouses, then pay a visit to Livermore Valley Wine Country, dotted with over 50 beautiful wineries. Prefer an alcohol-free adventure? Perk up with trendy teas and coffees along the Caffeine Trail or indulge your sweet tooth at over a dozen artisan creameries on the Ice Cream Trail.

A vineyard with a view of Sonoma Lake in Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County

Sonoma County’s wine culture spans more than a century and includes 18 distinct growing regions with 425 wineries throughout the county. Pair your vino with cheese from one of nearly 30 creameries along the California Cheese Trail. At Bodega Bay, let the wind whip through your hair as you soak in views of the pristine coastline. And the perfect way to explore it all? By bicycle or road trip, of course.

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United Stories: Riding Through California

Professional cyclists Freddie Rodriguez and Jens Voigt provide an inside look at the Amgen Tour of California, which passses through the state's most iconic highways and coastlines from Sacramento to Pasadena.

United Stories: Riding Through California
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