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North America Road Trippin

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

There’s a certain mystique about hitting the open road. The charming notion of packing your bags and departing into the great unknown is a well-loved form of travel for many reasons. The spontaneity, the romance of freedom, the wind whipping through your hair, the ultimate optimistic desire to just explore. A road trip is just as romantic as it is classic.

California’s iconic sunshine, endless outdoor experiences and ever-changing landscapes is a dream come true. For the road tripping Dame Traveler, we’re here to declare that we believe The Golden State is the ultimate road trip destination.

So, pack your bags and sunglasses, roll the top down and let’s explore one of our favorite California road trip routes! Additionally, we love this collection of itineraries and photo diaries. Or for the most book loving traveler, check out this 50 Amazing Road Trips guide. It’s the perfect coffee table book to sift through!

Highway 1 From San Francisco To San Diego

The most classic of road trip routes – Highway 1 – is beloved for good reason. The iconic stops along this approximate 5 day, 583 mile stretch is the perfect itinerary for the California new-by or aficionado, alike. Think beach-y coastlines, surf culture, rugged mountains, wine country and some of the hippest West Coast cities all rolled up into one trip! Although you could probably squeeze this route into four days if you wanted, we’d suggest spreading it out a little more so you have more time to enjoy and explore outside of your car.

Day 1 – San Francisco​​​​​​​

Start your California road trip of a lifetime in San Francisco. Famous for its many rolling hills, delicious eateries, progressive, trendy neighborhoods, the City by the Bay is an ultimate must-see while exploring Cali.

Some of our must see stops? The Golden Gate Bridge (of course), Alcatraz Island, Presidio neighborhood, Mission Dolores Park district, and the Ferry Building Marketplace. You can read more of our San Francisco favorites here!​​​​​​​

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

Day 2 – Big Sur & Moro Bay

California’s iconic coastline, Big Sur, awaits road trippers with open arms. After a long stretch of driving north, you’ll be ready to hit the trails for a little bit. Luckily, this 90 mile long waterfront area is stocked with magical red wood forests and fog-laden beaches. (Be sure to stop at Bixby Bridge for a serious photo op!)

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.
Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.
Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.
Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

After enjoying some of the state’s epic natural wonders, hop in the car just a big longer and explore Moro Bay. It’s the perfect place for whale watching, noshing on some fresh sea food and exploring the “Gibraltar of the Pacific.”

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

Day 3 – Santa Barbara

Have a day to yourself in “The American Riviera” – simply because Santa Barbara’s architecture, temperate climate and big city treats can’t be overlooked. Santa Barbara is the quintessential dream come true for sun-lovers. So, if you’re a road tripper who needs some TL-Vitamin C therapy, this city is definitely a must stop destination on your trip.

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

Day 4 – Los Angeles

Of course, no quintessential California road trip would miss out on a day trip to the glamorous and cinematic Los Angeles. Famous for its film industry, you might see a celebrity or two if you’re lucky. Visit the beloved Walk Of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and the Griffith Observatory. But LA’s differing neighborhoods are really where it’s at – hipster Silver Lake, beachy Santa Monica, quieter Manhattan Beach, green Los Feliz, and swanky Beverly Hills (to name a few). Pick a couple that suits your travel style and explore… just be sure to plan ahead for lots of traffic!

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

P.S. If you’d like to extend your road trip a little longer, add a day in California’s wine country! And fear not. You don’t necessarily have to be a wine aficionado (although if you are, we have a list of destinations to add to your bucket list) to appreciate its beauty.

Day 5 – San Diego

End your journey in one of California’s waterfront charmer – San Diego! Enjoy the cities seemingly endless sunshine while you explore its charming neighborhoods like Little Italy, the East Village, North Park and Balboa Park (for a trip to see the beloved San Diego Zoo).

If you’d rather finish your road trip with a low key vibe, roll out a towel on the beach’s shoreline. Rent a paddle board or kayak, surf, or kick it with a fresh picnic. Ocean Beach, Mission Beach or Pacific Beach are great choices! Feeling a little more adventurous? Go check out La Jolla nearby or explore San Diego’s incredible shopping and sip on some of its up and coming craft breweries.

Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.
Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.
Is California The Ultimate Place For A Road Trip? We Think Yes.

A Road Trip For All Types Of Travelers

Highway 1 really offers a varied glimpse at California’s wonders, doesn’t it? It’s a beloved stretch for wanderers for a reason. One of the things that really makes California unique is that its history and varied environments offers something special for everyone. Desert oddities? Check. Star-gazing and ghost towns? Check. National parks? Check. The eclectic adventurer will be delighted by its variety of road trip stops and itineraries.


California dreaming yet? Hope to see you out there on the open road, Dame Travelers!

Post sponsored by Visit California

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

Insider Tips North America

Best Things To Do In Balboa Park San Diego

As a Southern California native, I frequently spend the weekends in San Diego and discover new sights with each visit. This time, I went to the Balboa Park area in search of the best free things to do, panoramic views, and craft beers. Balboa Park is a National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1915 and is renowned for its stunning Churrigueresque and Spanish style architecture. If you plan to visit multiple museums during your trip, be sure to check out the Balboa Park Explorer Pass to save on admissions fees.


All photos by @nastasiaspassport

Here, we explore the best panoramic views of San Diego and enjoy many free gardens and museums:

San Diego Botanical Garden
Built in 1915, this iconic landmark is Instagram-worthy for its unique domed architecture and reflective lily pond. The interior is filled with exotic ferns, palms, and orchids. Best of all, the gardens are free to enter from 10am – 4pm.

Timken Museum of Art
This building stands out in the park for its Modern style architecture, with sleek lines and symmetry. The museum contains a small gallery that includes Italian, Russian, and American art and admission is free.

Street Performances
Balboa Park draws many street performers, dancer, and musical performers. Stroll through the park and catch the talent along the way.

Open Air Sculpture Garden
Balboa Park contains many eye-catching sculptures along the plaza, known as “Art of the Open Air”. The sculpture garden is free to enjoy.

San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum contains a small gallery of everything from Contemporary art to South East Asian art. There are free docent tours with admission. For those of you on a budget, the museum stays open late on Fridays and is free for students and only $5 for non-members.

International Cottages

The international cottages offer a sampling of the heritage from many of the countries that have a presence in San Diego, including Germany, Spain, Israel, and many more. On weekends, there are cultural performances, open houses with food, and heritage celebrations. We sampled tea from England, waffles from Denmark , saw a Panamanian performance, and got our names written in Mandarin from the China house. The international cottages are great way to share in the traditions of other cultures that make up the diverse city of San Diego.

San Diego Museum of Man

The museum is one of the most iconic buildings in San Diego. Enjoy the thought-provoking exhibits including ‘Inter+Race” which explores race and identity, and “Living With Animals” which tells the story of the relationship between man and animals.

California Tower
Climb the tower for the best panoramic views of the San Diego harbor, downtown, Balboa Park. The tower dates back to 1915, and was closed to the public since 1935. It recently reopened for Balboa Park’s Centennial in 2015. There are timed tours of the tower that come with entry to the museum for $22 each.

Craft Beer
A visit to San Diego is not complete without a craft beer. San Diego is synonymous with craft brews and one of the kings of the movement is Ballast Point. We checked out the tasting room, which had tours and a large selection of craft beers.

Surfing
San Diego is famous for its surf culture. There are many areas to view the panoramic ocean views. Our favorite for the best surf is Swami’s beach.

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