Take the Pines to Palms scenic byway. Explore epic views and diverse ecosystems with this guide including, key stops, driving directions, and where to hike and eat.
California Road Trip Ideas
California is made for road trips. We have nearly 400,000 miles of highway-- your on ramp to craggy coastlines, granite mountains, redwood forest, rolling pastures and desert moonscapes. And whether you're just visiting here and planning an epic trip or you live here and you want some weekend getaways, these California road trip ideas will help you plan your trip
3 Tips for Making the Most of Your California Road Trip
Robert Frost recommended the road less traveled by...and so do we.
Even if you're road tripping to a popular place, like Yosemite, make time for that quirky roadside attraction, little known state park and scenic diversion through wine country. We like Atlas Obscura for finding offbeat attractions and you can use our California State Parks guide (with map!) or our complete list of California National Park sites (with another map!) for finding smaller parks and little known historic parks.
Don't be hasty.
There's a lot to see and do in California and you don't have time for all of it. It's better to slow down and really savor a few places than rush a best-of tour tour, skimming along the blacktop while actually seeing very little. Take time to go forest bathing in Hendy Woods or take the loop around Convict Lake when the leaves are turning and you'll have a richer experience for it.
Take an old-school map with you.
The best California road trips travel through some hard-to-reach places, which often have poor mobile service. Taking an atlas will help you get off the beaten track, while still staying on course. We recommend the Benchmark California Road Atlas. It's got a ton of detail, including dirt roads, campgrounds and topographical features.
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
5 of Our Most Popular California Road Trip Ideas
20 Eye-Popping Scenic Drives in California
These California road trip ideas cover some of our best scenic drives and officially designated byways. Find a mix of day trips and multi-day ideas for both Northern and Southern California.
The Pacific Coast Highway
San Francisco to Los Angeles in 5 days with all the essential stops.
Joshua Tree to Death Valley Road Trip
Including 19 key stops in each national park, PLUS some cool and little known spots in between.
Eastern Sierra Highway 395 Corridor
5 day itinerary for the Eastern Sierra which includes funky geology, hot springs, historic sites, lovely lakes and tons of pine forest.
Day Drive Around Scenic Lake Tahoe
This 74 mile drive is chock full of beautiful lake views. You can do it in a day using our guide, which features 13 killer stops.
3 Road Trips from San Francisco
Peruse the Blog Roll for More Road Trips
Your full guide for a San Francisco to Yosemite road trip, featuring the National Park plus Native American culture, gold rush history, cool hikes and culinary tourism.
Head from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe with this detailed road trip guide. Get routing suggestions from SF to Tahoe with ideas for fun stops along the way.
Head from San Francisco to the Redwoods with this detailed road trip guide. Get from SF all the way to Redwoods National Park in 5 days and 13 amazing stops.
Make the most of your Joshua Tree to Death Valley drive. This detailed itinerary has a detailed route with scenic stops and super useful trip planning tips.
Figure out where (and when) to find the best fall color in the Eastern Sierras of California. Get specific advice on 22 leafy locations along the Highway 395 corridor.
Make the most of your San Francisco to Death Valley drive. This detailed itinerary has a routing loop with scenic stops and super useful trip planning tips.
Make the most of your San Francisco to Las Vegas drive. Get 4 different scenic road trip routes with tips for key stops along the way.
Get road trip inspiration with these 20 ideas for the best scenic drives in California. Find 10 multi-day and 10 day trip ideas covering Northern and Southern California.
Hit the road with this detailed Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary from San Francisco to Los Angeles along America’s most scenic coastal route.
Taking a Big Sur Day trip? Use our guide to help you get the most out of your day with top things to do and practical tips for optimizing your time on the road.
This Highway 395 road trip itinerary will give you everything you need see the best of the Eastern Sierras. Get your complete guide with planning tips and a map.