California trip ideas
With so much to see and do in such a vast area, a trip to California needs careful planning. Self-driving is the most popular way of touring the state’s many highlights. You can opt for a leisurely cruise down the coast along Highway 1 or to take in as much of the landscape as possible on a road trip of epic proportions.
Our specialists can advise on the best options and how you can combine the sites and attractions that interest you the most. Below, we’ve put together some itinerary ideas featuring routes that we know work particularly well, based on our own travels.
Ideas for your trip to California
These itineraries are designed to give you some suggestions for what is possible when you travel in California, and they showcase some of the routes that we’ve found work particularly well. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely for you by one of our specialists based on your particular tastes and interests.
Tour Alcatraz and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Go whale watching in Monterey, looking out for orca and humpback whales.
Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway with its dramatic views of the rugged coastline and the ocean.
Relax on the soft sands of Pismo Beach.
Enjoy the sparkle and glamour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
Enjoy the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan.
Drive the original brick-topped section of Route 66.
Admire St Louis' impressive Gateway Arch.
Marvel at the magnificent Grand Canyon.
Watch the sunset from Santa Monica.
Explore the glamour of Hollywood and chic Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
Follow walking trails and see incredible geological formations in California and Arizona’s national parks.
Drive the iconic Pacific Coast Highway for dramatic views over the ocean and rugged coastline.
Soak up the electric atmosphere of Las Vegas.
Discover the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Explore the beaches and pretty towns along the Pacific coastline.
Watch for wildlife and get close to nature in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
See the salt flats of Badwater in the desolate Death Valley National Park.
Enjoy wine tasting in the glorious vineyards of the Napa Valley.
Explore beautiful, cosmopolitan San Francisco.
Go wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley.
Go hiking at Mount Shasta.
Discover the beauty and tranquility of Crater Lake National Park.
See the enormous redwood trees in Redwood National Park.
Explore the beautiful cities of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
Drive along the scenic coastal highways of California and Oregon.
See magnificent giant redwood trees in northern California.
At low tide walk to Haystack Rock at Oregon's Cannon Beach.
Hike around the temperate rainforests looking for wildlife in Olympic National Park.
Some of our favourite travel guides
USA specialist David picks some of his highlights for a family holiday in California. From enjoying the different cultures in San Francisco to whale watching in Monterey, touring the film studies in Los Angeles to exploring Redwood National Park, California has a range of experiences for all ages.View this travel guide
Take a fly-drive along the California coast and explore some of the region’s most captivating towns, cities and national parks, from glamorous LA, home of the US film industry, to the dramatic geological spectacles of Yosemite National Park.View this travel guide
Experience some of California's most impressive scenery on a drive along its central coast on Highway 1, taking in the sights of San Francisco, Los Angeles and everything in between. USA specialist, Alex, discusses the route’s highlights, from laid-back beach communities to historic towns and vibrant cities.View this travel guide
Yosemite in California is one of America's most visited national parks. In order to get the most from your trip we highlight some of the finest trails and accommodation as well as recommending the best time to visit.View this travel guide