Explore Best California Road Trips – Top Routes!

california road trips

California offers some of the most iconic road trips in the world, with breathtaking scenic drives along the coast, through deserts, and into wine country. Whether you’re exploring the California coast, venturing into the desert, or heading to the wine country, there are plenty of options for road trip adventures in the Golden State. Here are some of the top routes to consider.

Key Takeaways:

  • California offers incredible road trip opportunities with stunning scenic drives.
  • Top routes include Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park, Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg, and Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail.
  • Other notable road trips include Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park, Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails, Highway 101 from Malibu to Lompoc, Rim of the World Scenic Byway, and a Surf Safari through Orange County.
  • Plan your road trip, pack your car, and embark on an adventure to discover the diverse beauty of California.
  • Enjoy breathtaking landscapes, must-see attractions, and delicious wines as you explore the Golden State.

Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park

The road trip from Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park is a scenic drive of approximately 188 miles. Along the way, you’ll pass through the northeastern Shasta Cascade region, home to California’s best-kept secrets.

Highlights include:

  • Shasta Lake
  • Mount Shasta
  • Castle Crags State Park
  • Burney Falls
  • Lake Almanor

Finish your trip at Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you can explore bubbling mud pots, steaming geysers, and the beauty of the volcanic landscape.

Embark on this unforgettable journey and experience the wonders of California’s hidden gems. Start your adventure from Redding and immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenic beauty along the way. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the pristine waters of Shasta Lake and marvel at the majesty of Mount Shasta. Make a stop at Castle Crags State Park to witness stunning rock formations, and be sure to visit the mesmerizing Burney Falls, known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Enjoy the tranquility of Lake Almanor before concluding your road trip at Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you’ll witness the raw power of nature in the form of geothermal activity.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or simply looking for a serene getaway, the Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park road trip is the perfect choice. Plan your California road trip itinerary today and discover the must-see places in this beautiful state.

Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg

The stretch of Highway 1 that runs from San Francisco to Fort Bragg is a must-see attraction for anyone embarking on a California coast road trip. This scenic coastal route covers a distance of 175 miles and offers breathtaking views along the way.

As you embark on this road trip, you’ll have the opportunity to visit iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, a true marvel of engineering. Be sure to make a stop at the picturesque Muir Woods National Monument, where you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of towering redwood trees.

Continue along the highway and experience the natural wonders of Point Reyes National Seashore, with its rugged coastline and diverse wildlife. Take a detour into Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s wine country, where you can indulge in wine tastings and enjoy the stunning vineyard landscapes.

As you drive further north, you’ll reach the charming coastal town of Mendocino, known for its dramatic cliffs and beautiful Victorian architecture. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Glass Beach, a beach covered in colorful sea glass, and MacKerricher State Park, home to a variety of wildlife.

Along the Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg, there are endless opportunities for scenic stops, outdoor adventures, and unforgettable experiences. This road trip is a perfect example of the must-see attractions in California road trips, offering a diverse range of landscapes and attractions that will leave you in awe.

california coast road trip

Must-See Attractions on Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg:

  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Muir Woods National Monument
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Napa Valley
  • Sonoma County’s wine country
  • Mendocino
  • Glass Beach
  • MacKerricher State Park

Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail

When it comes to planning a road trip through California’s wine country, the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley should be at the top of your list. This scenic 29-mile route offers a year-round experience of the region’s best wineries, making it the perfect destination for wine enthusiasts and explorers alike.

The Silverado Trail runs parallel to the more bustling State Highway 29, providing a more relaxed and picturesque alternative. Along this trail, you’ll have easy access to renowned wineries such as Reynolds Family Winery, Clos du Val, and Mumm Napa. Take your time to indulge in wine tastings, learn about the winemaking process, and savor the flavors of Napa Valley’s world-class wines.

To make the most of your visit, consider staying at one of the charming hotels in the area. Auberge du Soleil, Solage Calistoga, and Meadowood Napa Valley are just a few of the luxurious accommodations available to enhance your experience in this renowned wine region.

California Road Trip Planner

What to Experience on the Silverado Trail:

  • Wine tastings at prestigious wineries
  • Guided tours of vineyards and cellars
  • Opportunities to meet winemakers and learn about their craft
  • Breathtaking views of Napa Valley’s scenic vineyards
  • Opulent accommodations and fine dining experiences

Embark on a journey along the Silverado Trail and immerse yourself in the beauty, culture, and unparalleled wines of Napa Valley. Whether you’re a wine aficionado or simply seeking a memorable road trip experience, this route promises to delight and leave you with lasting memories.

Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park

A road trip from Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park is a must for those seeking the best road trip experience in California. This scenic journey covers a distance of 234 miles on the Lone Pine route or 215 miles on the Yosemite route. As you traverse along Highway 395, the main thoroughfare through the High Sierra, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of volcanic rock formations, majestic waterfalls, and unique limestone tufa towers.

The highlights of this road trip are not to be missed. Start your adventure in South Lake Tahoe, where you can enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the lake and indulge in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking. Explore the stunning Emerald Bay State Park, known for its picturesque vistas and hiking trails offering sweeping views of the lake.

Continue your journey south and make a stop at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, a unique saltwater lake known for its towering tufa formations. Marvel at the otherworldly landscape and keep an eye out for migratory birds that make this area their temporary home.

Next, venture into the charming town of Mammoth Lakes, nestled among the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada. This outdoor playground offers a wide range of activities, from skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking and mountain biking in summer. Get lost in the natural beauty of the area and take in panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

As you continue your road trip, make a stop in Bishop, a small town with a rich history and stunning natural surroundings. Explore the nearby Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to some of the oldest living beings on our planet. Marvel at the resilience and beauty of these ancient trees.

Finally, the grand finale of your road trip awaits at either Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park, depending on the route you choose. Lone Pine serves as the gateway to the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada and offers access to the majestic Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States.

If you opt for the Yosemite route, prepare to be amazed as you enter one of the most iconic national parks in the United States. Yosemite National Park captivates visitors with its awe-inspiring granite cliffs, magnificent waterfalls, and lush valleys. Explore the Yosemite Valley, hike to the towering Yosemite Falls, or marvel at the breathtaking vistas from Glacier Point.

Whichever destination you choose, the landscapes you’ll encounter on this road trip will leave you in awe and provide memories that will last a lifetime.

california desert road trips

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway is a 90-mile drive along forest roads, offering a glimpse into the High Sierra as it looked a century ago. Starting near the town of North Fork, this route takes you through peaks, granite domes, and conifer forests.

Highlights of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway:

  • Jesse Ross Cabin
  • One of the world’s oldest sequoia trees
  • Rustic Jones General Store

northern california road trips

This road trip is best enjoyed from June through October when the scenic beauty of the High Sierra is at its peak. Experience the tranquility of nature, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and marvel at the majestic landscapes along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. Don’t forget to capture the awe-inspiring views and create memories to last a lifetime.

Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails

Embark on a picturesque 62-mile road trip through the stunning Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails. This scenic route takes you through enchanting orchards and charming fruit stands, offering a delightful experience for nature lovers and food enthusiasts alike.

From February to September, the blossoming fruit and nut trees adorn the landscape, creating a vibrant display of colors that will leave you in awe. As you drive along, make sure to stop at iconic landmarks such as Simonian Farms, where you can indulge in fresh produce and enjoy the local charm.

Another must-visit stop along the way is the aromatic Orange Blossom Trail. Immerse yourself in the fragrant scents and be captivated by the beauty of the blossoms surrounding you. And for those seeking a taste of California’s renowned wines, the Cedar View Winery is a perfect addition to your itinerary.

This road trip takes you through the heart of the Raisin Capital of the World, providing a unique glimpse into the agricultural heritage of California. Explore the expansive orchards, indulge in farm-fresh delights, and be inspired by the rich history that has shaped this region.

southern california road trips

Highlights of the Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails:

  • Enjoy the vibrant colors of the blossoming fruit and nut trees
  • Stop by Simonian Farms for fresh produce and local charm
  • Experience the aromatic Orange Blossom Trail
  • Taste exquisite wines at Cedar View Winery
  • Discover the agricultural heart of California

Highway 101 from Malibu to Lompoc

Embark on a breathtaking California coastal road trip along Highway 101 from Malibu to Lompoc. This 120-mile adventure combines the best of both the beach and wine country experiences. Starting in the iconic coastal town of Malibu, you’ll journey through picturesque destinations such as Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and finally reach Lompoc.

Treat yourself to stunning scenic views of the Pacific Ocean as you cruise along the highway. Take leisurely strolls on beautiful beaches like El Capitán and Refugio, feeling the sand between your toes and the gentle ocean breeze on your skin. Explore the charming town of Lompoc, immersing yourself in its unique atmosphere and friendly local culture.

No California coastal road trip is complete without indulging in the region’s renowned wine offerings. Make sure to visit the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, a must-see destination for wine enthusiasts. Here, you can savor a wide variety of wines from leading boutique producers, allowing your taste buds to explore a myriad of exquisite flavors.

So pack your bags, hit the road, and embrace the magic of Highway 101 as you venture from Malibu to Lompoc. This coastal road trip promises unforgettable moments, breathtaking scenery, and a taste of California’s coastal charm.

California Coastal Road Trip

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

The Rim of the World Scenic Byway is a 117-mile road trip that winds around the cliffs of the San Bernardino Mountains. This route offers panoramic views of mountains, lakes, and, on a clear day, even the Pacific Ocean. Highlights include Lake Arrowhead, Heaps Peak Arboretum, and Keller Peak Fire Lookout. This road trip is worth exploring year-round, with opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and enjoying homemade fudge at the North Pole Fudge & Ice Cream Co. in Big Bear.

must-see places in california

Highlights of the Rim of the World Scenic Byway:

  • Lake Arrowhead: Enjoy the serene beauty of this pristine lake and take a leisurely stroll along its shores.
  • Heaps Peak Arboretum: Immerse yourself in nature as you explore this stunning arboretum, filled with beautiful trees and native plants.
  • Keller Peak Fire Lookout: Take in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape from this historic fire lookout tower.

Whether you visit during the summer or winter, the Rim of the World Scenic Byway offers a memorable road trip experience in the heart of California. Don’t forget to capture stunning photos of the scenic vistas along the way. Start planning your road trip adventure and discover the must-see places in California on this unforgettable journey.

Surf Safari through Orange County

Embark on an unforgettable road trip through some of Southern California’s most famous beach towns with the Surf Safari through Orange County. This 30-mile route takes you on a journey starting in Dana Point and passing through Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach. Soak up the endless summer vibes as you visit art galleries, relax on beautiful beaches, and catch a wave in Surf City USA. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Pageant of the Masters Tournament in Laguna Beach during the summer months, a must-see event that brings art to life.

Discover the Highlights:

  • Dana Point: Start your journey in this coastal city known for its stunning beaches and picturesque harbor.
  • Laguna Beach: Explore the vibrant art scene and enjoy the breathtaking coastal views from this renowned beach town.
  • Crystal Cove State Park: Marvel at the pristine beaches, tide pools, and coastal hikes in this stunning natural oasis.
  • Newport Beach: Immerse yourself in the luxurious coastal lifestyle, take a stroll along the iconic Newport Pier, or indulge in waterfront dining.
  • Huntington Beach: Dive into the surf culture of Surf City USA, where you can catch some waves or watch world-class surfing competitions.

Experience the best of Southern California’s coastal charm and create memories to last a lifetime on the Surf Safari through Orange County.

Conclusion

California is the ultimate destination for unforgettable road trips. With its diverse landscapes and iconic attractions, the Golden State offers endless possibilities for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you want to cruise along the stunning coastline of Highway 1, explore the breathtaking deserts, or immerse yourself in the beauty of the wine country, California has it all.

From the majestic Redwood forests to the picturesque vineyards of Napa Valley, each road trip destination in California has its own charm and allure. Take in the awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, witness the wonders of nature in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or indulge in the world-class wines of Napa and Sonoma. Whatever your interests may be, you’re sure to find a road trip that caters to your desires.

So pack your bags, hop in the car, and hit the open road. Discover the hidden gems, soak in the natural beauty, and create memories that will last a lifetime. California road trips are not just about the destinations; they’re about the journey and the freedom to explore at your own pace. So start planning your itinerary, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure through the top road trip destinations in California. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, California is waiting to be explored.

FAQ

What are some of the best road trips in California?

Some of the best road trips in California include the drive from Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park, the coastal road trip from San Francisco to Fort Bragg, the wine country road trip along Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, and the journey from Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park.

What are some must-see attractions in California road trips?

Must-see attractions in California road trips include Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta, Castle Crags State Park, Burney Falls, Glass Beach, MacKerricher State Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, Napa Valley, Sonoma County’s wine country, and Yosemite National Park.

What are some road trip destinations in California?

Some popular road trip destinations in California include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach.

How can I plan a California road trip?

To plan a California road trip, decide on your desired route, research attractions and points of interest along the way, create an itinerary with estimated driving times and distances, book accommodations in advance, and make sure your vehicle is in good condition for the journey.

What are some epic road trips in California?

Some epic road trips in California include the Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park drive, the Highway 1 coastal road trip, the journey from Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine or Yosemite National Park, and the Rim of the World Scenic Byway.

What are some scenic drives in California?

Some scenic drives in California include the Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park route, the Highway 1 coastal drive, the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, the Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails, the Rim of the World Scenic Byway, and the Surf Safari through Orange County.

Are there any road trips in California’s wine country?

Yes, there are road trips in California’s wine country. The Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail is a popular route that offers a year-round experience of the region’s best wineries, such as Reynolds Family Winery, Clos du Val, and Mumm Napa.

What are some road trip ideas in California?

Some road trip ideas in California include exploring the coastal towns along Highway 101, venturing into the deserts of southern California, visiting national parks like Joshua Tree and Death Valley, and taking a leisurely drive through the scenic landscapes of northern California.

What are some top road trip destinations in California?

Some top road trip destinations in California include the Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park drive, the Highway 1 coastal road trip, Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, the Fresno Blossom and Fruit Trails, Highway 101 from Malibu to Lompoc, the Rim of the World Scenic Byway, and the Surf Safari through Orange County.

How can I make the most of my California road trip?

To make the most of your California road trip, plan your itinerary well in advance, research and prioritize the attractions you want to see, allow for flexibility in your schedule, take the time to explore off the beaten path, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and diverse experiences that California has to offer.

How long do California road trips typically take?

The duration of California road trips can vary depending on the route and the number of stops along the way. It is recommended to allow at least a week for a road trip along the California coast, and longer for more extensive journeys that include multiple destinations.

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