7 Classic California Road Trip Destinations You Should Visit At Least Once

You’ve probably heard of a “road trip” before. It’s when you go on a long journey from one place to another, usually by car, often with friends or family. You have an epic adventure that can last anywhere from a few hours to more than a week. Well, the state of California is just begging for some road-tripping. So where should you go?  With so many different climates and terrains available within its borders, it’s hard not to find something new and exciting. And if you’re looking for advice about where to start? Here are seven iconic destinations you should visit at least once during your lifetime.

Sequoia National Park, South Sierra Nevada

This secluded stretch of mountains in Cali’s south is a surprising find. Despite being close to Los Angeles, this area remains largely unpopulated, making it the perfect destination for hikers and climbers alike. If you’re into camping, you can bring your gear and spend a few days exploring the park’s many trails.

The giant trees alone are worth the trip -they’re said to be some of the largest living things on Earth.  Of course, the star of the show is the General Sherman Tree, which is said to be one of the largest living trees on Earth. Be sure not to miss it during your visit. Just take extra care not to walk too close to them, lest you want your name added to their rings. However, if you’re not into roughing it, there are also several lodges for rent.

Death Valley National Park

Located in southeast California is Death Valley National Park, a stretch of desert with some surreal views. Some visitors have even reported hallucinations after being there too long! If you’re looking to escape the hustle of modern life, this is the place you want to be.

Death Valley isn’t for everyone though – summer temperatures often top 120 degrees! But if you can brave the heat, there’s a whole world waiting for you to explore. Make sure to pack some sunscreen or risk getting seriously burned. You might even consider bringing some industrial-strength sunblock with you.

Yosemite National Park

One of the most popular national parks in America, Yosemite features a wide variety of sights for hikers and climbers alike. In the summer, you can scale some of its cliffs, while during winter it’s a destination for skiers. However, if you want to see the park without any hassle, there’s always the option to take a scenic drive. One of its most popular spots is Bridalveil Fall, a 620 ft cascade that gets going in late spring and winds down come autumn. 

If you’re looking for a more – well – bridal experience, then tying the knot here might be just up your alley. Also, there are great RV rentals in California available on this website that would make camping more fun. If not, there are still plenty of other things to do and see.  As long as it’s not wintertime, that is. Yosemite Valley is the perfect setting for a classic wedding photo op.

Joshua Tree National Park

By now you may have heard of Joshua Trees, those strange-looking trees with gnarled branches and small green leaves. There are a lot of them here in Joshua tree National Park in Southern California. But this is more than just a lookout spot for the native plant life, you can actually go on several trails if you so choose!

Be warned though, it’s hot in the summertime and the sun is unforgiving. Bring lots of sunscreen or risk getting burned to a crisp! On the other hand, during wintertime, it can get frigid pretty fast. So bring some warm clothes if you’re coming here then.

The best time to visit is around late April when wildflowers blanket the otherwise stark desert landscape. It’s like a burst of color amidst the dry sands and rocky terrain. Plus you never know what wild animals you might see.

Big Sur    

Located along the Pacific Coast Highway, this scenic stretch of land is for those who like to take their time and unwind. Be warned though: this part of California can get expensive real quick if you’re not careful. There are several resorts here where you can stay and most of them are pretty pricey.

You can come up with cheaper accommodations, but the experience might not be as good. Rest assured that there is no shortage of activities to do here.  You can go kayaking, hiking, cycling, swimming, and more! Then again if you’d rather just sit back and relax, there’s plenty of opportunities for that as well. Be careful though – Big Sur is known for its steep cliffs, so keep a safe distance from the edge.

Mount Shasta  

Last but not least is Shasta Mountain in Northern California. This huge volcano stands high at over 14,000 feet and has some of the best views you’ll ever see. By all accounts, it’s a very difficult hike to get up there, though once you do the view is said to be worth it.

At least, that’s what hikers say. But if you don’t want to go through the trouble of climbing a mountain, why not just take a helicopter ride instead? You can get up there in less than an hour and still see all the stunning views from above! This is one California destination where you can get the best of both worlds.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

Last but not least is an old favorite, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. This observatory is world-famous and for good reason. Not only can you look at stars through a telescope up to 400mm in diameter, but you can also enjoy amazing views of the city from above as well. Even better, it’s completely free of charge!

Admissions are waived on some days so be sure to check their website for updates. But if you can get in, then it’s definitely worth checking out. The observatory regularly offers star shows and presentations that are fun and educational for the whole family. Furthermore, don’t forget to come back at night to admire the city below! You can see all of Los Angeles spread out before you like a blanket of twinkling lights. If that’s not enough, every Saturday night the Griffith Observatory hosts a star party where you can look at constellations and other heavenly bodies.

California is a big state with plenty of amazing destinations to explore. For those looking for the perfect California road trip, we’ve compiled this list of 7 iconic destinations you should visit at least once! From mountains and beaches to forests and deserts, these are some of the best places in California that will show you what makes it so special.

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