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California Roadtrip

A 12 day road trip through California. Cities, parks, lakes and the coast.

California is so large and has so many different areas to take your breath away. I have been to California 3 times. Twice with my kids, at which time we explored a little and visited family. The last time I visited was in 2023 while visiting Washington and Oregon.


When visiting family, we stayed in Ocean Side, which is located between San Diego and Los Angeles. We enjoyed local beaches, shopped and walked the boardwalk in Carlsbad, visited the San Diego Safari Park and went to Disney Land.


Our second trip out we started in San Francisco. Here we did a city bus tour, saw the Golden Gate Bridge, drove to Salinas and stayed with family. While in Salinas we went to Monterey, saw Pebble Beach and splashed in tidepools. After, we drove down to Oceanside to stay with family again. On this trip, US Hwy 1 was closed due to mudslides, so we didn't get the full experience of driving down the coast.


My last visit to California can be read in my Pacific Northwest blog post. We barely dipped into California but what we saw was so amazing as we drove and walked through the Redwoods National Forest. We also crossed back down into California to see the Lava Beds National Monument on the very northeast part of the state.


California has several national parks, and while that isn't the only objective of our vacations, I do want to see as many as I can. I planned a trip longer than our average vacations because I found it so difficult to cut anything out. I still have more destinations I hope to see at some point, but I packed a lot into this one.



This road trip will be a lot of driving and exploring the same day, but I believe we are up for it!

Day 1: Fly into LA, drive to Oceanside

  • Rent Car

Day 2: Visit San Diego and Carlsbad

  • La Jolla

    • Children's Pool

    • Coastal Walk Trail

    • Sunny Jim Cave

  • Balboa Park

    • Prado

    • Spreckels Organ Pavillion

    • Alcazar Garden

    • Spanish Village Art Center

    • Lily Pond and Botanical Garden

  • Old Town

Day 3: Drive to Joshua National Park

  • Cholla Cactus Garden

  • Arch Rock

  • Scull Rock

  • Barker Dam Trail

  • Keys View

Day 4 Drive to Sequoia National Park

Day 5: Visit Sequoia National Park

  • General Sherman Tree

  • Big Tree Trail

  • Moro Rock

  • Tokopah Falls

  • Crystal Cave

Day 6: Drive to Yosemite National Park

Day 7: Visit Yosemite National Park

  • El Capitan

  • Bridal Veil Falls

  • Cook Meadows Walk

  • Mirror Lake

  • Tunnel View

  • Glacier Point

  • Taft Point

Day 8: Drive to Lake Tahoe

  • Zephyr Cove Beach

  • Heavenly Mountain Gondola

  • Eagle Falls

  • Emerald Bay

Day 9: Drive to San Francisco

  • City Tour

Day 10: Drive to Monterey

  • Point Labos

Day 11: Visit Big Sur, Drive to Santa Barbara

  • Bixby Bridge

  • Pfeiffer Beach

  • Piedras Blanca

  • Hearst Castle

  • Morro Bay

  • Bishop Peak

  • Los Alamos

Day 12: Drive to LA, Fly Home

  • Stearns Warf

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