As one of the most geographically diverse states, California is a must-visit for every traveler to the USA. Whilst it may be synonymous with Hollywood glamour and surfing the waves, it also has an incredible amount of natural beauty to offer. When it comes to soaking up the Cali sights, I recommend taking your time, so ditch the jet-setting lifestyle and take the open road instead. RV rental firm Campanda.com has a huge range of motorhomes available for pickup at over 800 locations, so it’s easy to start your road trip wherever you land. They also operate a best price guarantee, so both single travelers and larger groups can enjoy sleeping quarters, lounge areas and kitchenettes without splashing out too much.
California offers one of the most beautiful road trips, and there are plenty of different routes you can take. Here is just one of many ways to travel the Golden State by car.
Yosemite National Park
A designated World Heritage Site, Yosemite National Park lies around 185 miles east of San Francisco and makes a great starting point for your trip. Steeped in indigenous history, Yosemite offers everything from waterfalls and glaciers to unique plant life and architecture. Start the day early and bring your hiking gear to make the most of all that Yosemite has to offer, from the beautiful Yosemite Falls (the world’s fifth highest waterfall) to Mariposa Grove with its impressive population of the Giant Sequoia tree. For a spectacular view over Yosemite Valley, head to Glacier Point towards the end of the day and watch the sun set.
After a few days in Yosemite, make your way some 200 miles west to Point Reyes, a striking peninsula on the Pacific coast. Comprising 80 miles of unspoiled coastline, Point Reyes National Seashore is a nature-lover’s haven, and the historic lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula is a great vantage point for spotting gray whales and northern elephant seals, or simply taking in the view. Head to nearby Tomales Bay and rent a kayak, or stay dry with a horseback tour. If you’re into cycling, I would also recommend renting a bike (or bringing your own) and taking on the Marshall Wall biking route.
The next stop takes you south along the coastline towards Santa Barbara, a good seven-hour drive from Point Reyes but not lacking in worthwhile stop-off points in between, including San Jose and Monterey. Santa Barbara is a treasure trove of historic architecture, wine culture and stunning beachscapes. I suggest starting the day with a sunrise walk along the seafront, followed by a trip to the picturesque Old Mission to take in the historic architecture. For the afternoon, head over to the Funk Zone; full to the brim with trendy eateries, tasting rooms and microbreweries, it’s ideal for refueling. Finally, round off the day with one of the city’s many wine tours.
A hundred or so miles south of Santa Barbara is the LA County city of Long Beach, one of America’s primary seaports. If you didn’t manage to spot any whales back at Point Reyes, you’re bound to see some here; for an all-round view of the Long Beach skyline, marine life and the iconic Queen Mary – an ocean liner that has been moored in Long Beach since the late 1960s – pick up an ocean cruise or a shorter harbor tour. For fresh seafood with a view, head to Parkers’ Lighthouse for an early dinner before making your way to Hilltop Park for the sunset, one of the best viewing points over the whole city.
Joshua Tree National Park
Finally, heading back inland for around three hours brings you to Joshua Tree National Park, home to the two very different Mojave and Colorado deserts. Best known for its fascinating rock formations and of course the surreal Joshua Tree itself, this is one of my all-time favorite rock-climbing spots. The Hidden Valley trail is a one-mile loop around a small valley surrounded by boulders, great for both serious and amateur climbers. Joshua Tree National Park is also unbeatable for stargazing, so I would highly recommend camping out on-site and staying after dark.