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7 California Road Trips to Plan Right Now

7 California Road Trips to Plan Right Now

No matter the direction you plan on taking, you’re bound to get lost in the many options the Golden State has to offer.


7 min read

July 28, 2021

Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. Look for chances to take the less-traveled roads. There are no wrong turns.

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Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.
The most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take. The world is round so we'd never be able to see too far down the road.
Don't follow where the path may lead. Go where there's no path and leave a trail. The freedom of the open road is absolutely liberating.

4. Mendocino to Klamath

Distance: 206 miles

Duration: 4 hours and 11 minutes

This one’s for those who can’t stay away from the coastline for too long—beach lovers love going on this California road trip in the summer months. Whenever you’re driving north from Mendocino, the first stop is obviously Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. This unique beach isn’t exactly sandy; colorful pebbles welcome you to explore the north coast. 

Your next stop is Humboldt Redwoods State Park. A must-see on your north coast vacation, this can’t-miss state park is where you’ll drive along the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants—that’s a scenic drive you’d want to experience. 

Once you’ve experienced natural beauty at its finest, it’s time to head over to Eureka. Here, you’ll get to see Victorian architecture at every turn—the historic Carson and Pink Lady Mansions are the ones that stand out. Get your fix of architecture and drive past Arcata Bay, Patricks Point, and Orick until you finally arrive at Klamath. 

Never underestimate the therapeutic power of driving and listening to very loud music. Life is too short to not go on that spontaneous road trip.

5. San Diego to Paso Robles

Distance: 352 miles

Duration: 5 hours 15 minutes

Planning a fun road trip from San Diego? Make Paso Robles your final destination for a getaway with a fun itinerary and awesome stops. Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside are the first three places you should stop by if you’re a surfer dude. Drive north along Interstate 5 to arrive at the OC—San Clemente welcomes you with world-class waves and excellent surfing conditions.

Anaheim is the next stop to make along the way—but don’t worry, we won’t be telling you to spend the day at Disneyland, there are plenty of other things to do here. However, if you don’t feel like stopping here, make your way to the City of Angels. Check out the downtown districts, historically Black neighborhoods, and marvel at iconic L.A. architecture

Once the city buzz fades away and you find yourself in the ‘SLO’ lane, you’ve arrived at Paso Robles. Your tiring road trip will make you want to rejuvenate at Franklin Hot Springs to end your getaway luxuriously. 

Travel teaches you a little about the world and a lot about yourself. Getting lost is the best way to find ourselves.

6. San Jose to Malibu

Distance: 361 miles

Duration: 5 hours 50 minutes

Looking for a road trip to L.A. straight from Silicon Valley? Here’s one that promises a lot of fun on the road. This route via U.S. Route101 passes through Salinas, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and ends at the ‘Bu.

Depending on how long you can survive without making a stop, either stop at Soledad for breakfast or drive further down to San Luis Obispo for a delicious brunch. When in SLO, dedicate enough time to discover some of the hidden gems in this Central Coast beach town. By the time you make it to Malibu, you’ll have driven past Goleta, Summerland, and Ventura. Once you’ve made it to the iconic city, you can finally catch your breath at the gorgeous beaches. 

Road trips require a couple of things: a well-balanced diet of caffeine, salt and sugar, and an excellent selection of tunes—oh, and directions.

7. Los Angeles to San Francisco

Distance: 382 miles

Duration: 6 hours 15 minutes

Finally, a road trip out of L.A. This relatively long drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco can be as fun and as scenic as you want it to be. And guess what? This is the road trip to end all road trips in California. 

Bid adieu to the Malibu Coast and drive towards Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. This drive is going to be a long one, so make sure to stretch your legs along the way. Hike along Bishop Peak for beautiful city views. Later, make a detour at Morro Bay to enjoy the calming sound of the waves on the rocky shore. From there, head towards the 17-Mile Drive for 17 fun stops and a scenic drive that’ll take your breath away. After that, you’ll be stopping by Salinas, where you can visit the world-renowned WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, a race car aficionado’s definition of heaven.

Once you’ve driven past San Jose, Palo Alto, and San Mateo, it won’t be long until you arrive at Fog City. The Golden Gate Bridge waves hello from the other end of the Bay Area and welcomes you to the City by the Bay. Enjoy your stay!

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