The Ultimate California Travel Itinerary

This post was last updated on July 26th, 2016

California is easily one of our favorite places in the United States. Blessed with stunning natural attractions, fun people, mouth-watering food and tons of diversity, there’s simply something for everyone in the Golden State. If you’re headed straight to California or planning a more extensive holiday around the United States’ top attractions, this ultimate California travel itinerary will have you ready for adventure in no time:

San Fransisco

 

San Fran

From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the mind-boggling steep hills to the romantic red trolleys to the sea lions on the wharf, San Fransisco is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for good reason.

San Fransisco is trendy and fun, so be sure to leave plenty of time to wander around the city and hop into vintage clothing stores, used book stores and chic coffee shops. A walk through the Mission District will reveal gorgeous murals and street art. Dolores Park is one of the best places to lounge in the grass on a sunny day with locals.

Finally, don’t miss a stop at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, claimed to have the best margaritas in the world! If you stick around long enough, you can even obtain your PhD in tequila here! For a real treat, ask the owner about his special white tequila birthday cake.

Highway One

Highway 1

Easily one of the most beautiful drives in the U.S., Highway 1 is known as the scenic yet treacherous coastal route that spans California. The northern section of the route is also called Big Sur, and will certainly inspire you to pull over at every scenic vista to capture the huge cliffs that tower above the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

There is plenty of exploring to be had along Highway One. Don’t miss the McWay Waterfall in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park. It’s only a quarter mile from the main road and totally free.

Santa Cruz

This cool beach town is a surfer’s mecca, with massive waves ready for the taking. Just be sure to pack your wetsuit, as the water is freezing! If you’re not keen on surfing, head for a walk down the idyllic boardwalk. The famous seaside park and ferris wheel makes for great photos and a fun day out. End your day with a long walk out on the Santa Cruz pier, the longest wooden pier in California. You’ll be blessed with stunning sunsets all year round.

Napa Valley

Napa

No visit to California is complete without a stop in the romantic rolling hills of Napa Valley. It’s no secrete that we are wine aficionados, but even if you don’t know the difference between a Chardonnay and a Shiraz, there’s plenty to love in this scenic corner of California.

Rent a bicycle, pick up a picnic and go for a ride through the vineyards. Enjoy world-class dining in downtown Napa. And of course, don’t miss out on the countless wine tasting opportunities. A few of our favorites include:

Mumms: Mumms specializes in sparkling wine, and is the perfect place to sip some bubbles if you can’t make it all the way to Champagne. The ceiling to floor glass windows provide stunning views of the vineyards.

Hagafen: This is a bit of a well-kept secret, even though the President of the United States serves their wine. A flight of five wines is only $5, compared to an average of about $20 elsewhere. When the staff realized we were here on our honeymoon, they treated everyone in the winery to a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate!

Los Angeles

You either love it or you hate it. While Los Angeles isn’t our favorite place in California, it certainly warrants a visit on any ultimate road trip. Check out the Hollywood sign, go for a walk down the boulevard of the stars, and keep your eye out for a celebrity sighting! If you find the traffic and tourists are too much to handle, escape the city in favor of any of the legendary beaches nearby.

San Diego

San Diego is one of our favorite places in the entire world. It’s expensive—residents like to say they pay for the sunshine. But between the farmers markets, parks, Spanish influences, and the Big Bay, it’s easy to understand why you might spend a little extra to live in this dynamic city. To fully understand why we love San Diego so much, check out these 6 Reasons Why We Love San Diego.

6 Comments

  1. I don’t know why you have not elaborated much on Los Angeles. It is such a nice city especially those who love the glitz and glamor. May be the haze is a bit of a problem for some but the attractions are much enticing than some of those problems. But I do like the review of Napa Valley that you have given here and truly any visit to California must and must include Napa Valley and its wineries. Thanks for the wonderful info.
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    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience! We didn’t really love LA, but I’m sure it would be different if we gave it another try and had an insider show us more awesome spots. Haha all we can remember was sitting in traffic!

      Reply
  2. Great read guys.. California is an amazing place to explore and you definitely need to include a stop in all those places. San Deigo and San Fran being top of my list.

    Reply
    • Thanks Tim! San Diego is definitely at the top of our list – it’s such a wonderful place!

      Reply
    • Sound like awesome additional stops! We only went through Sonoma briefly but it did seem beautiful. Solvang sounds really cool!

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