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Tips for Planning a Driving Holiday in California

Have you ever been to California? If not, you are totally missing out! This place offers an amazing mixture of history, culture, scenery & amazing food, along with some of the hottest & trendiest cafes. If you plan on going sometime soon on your own, with your friends & family, or your significant other – you are exactly where you need to be! In this article, we are going to give you all the tips & tricks on how to have a pleasant time and how you can plan out the trip entirely. Keep on reading and get all the needed info.

Consider the distance

Before choosing the stops of the itinerary, there is an important aspect to consider and understand, and that is the size of California state itself. It is huge. Not only that Google maps will come in handy, but you could also use a bit of help from someone who is a local. Get a route that works best for you (depending on your place of living or where you plan on being at a given moment). Work your way from one city to the other, considering and thinking about all the pit stops along the way.

Where to start?

The hardest question probably itself. Most people prefer to start with the best & biggest attraction, which is for most of them San Francisco or Los Angeles since they are the biggest & busiest cities. Usually, travelers prefer to spend and stay 2-3 days in one city. The more cities you visit, the greater, merrier, pricier & more fun the trip! However, the final decision and choice is entirely up to you based on your free & available time, as well as your budget.

1. San Francisco

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San Francisco is the city that elected Harvey Milk and gave birth to the rainbow flag. San Francisco is mostly loved & known for its main attraction such as the Golden Gate Bridge that you have had to see in loads of different movies, right? If you plan on visiting Northern California this is a must-do stop! The city is known for its great shopping districts & diversity on every corner. From Union Square with big names to outlets from boutiques to vintage clothes and markets.

2. San Diego

Source:travelandleisure.com

This beachside city is infused with the spirit of nearby Mexico and Baja California – a must-see in the summer! It also has the largest urban cultural park in the US. Your drive from San Francisco to San Diego will take 10-12 hours, while there is around 570 miles for you to cover. There are 70 miles of shoreline and a diverse selection of beaches to explore. If you like surfing, you’ll be in heaven!

3. Laguna beach

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Roughly an hour north along the coast road, before the build-up towards Los Angeles begins, you’ll find Laguna Beach. If you are a beach guy or girl this is a must-see stop for you! There are also deep rocky canyons and sandy coves to explore & discover. It is also seen and known as an artist community.

4. Los Angeles

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For many, Los Angeles is all there is to it (especially locals) who don’t like to leave their lovely LA. Beverley Hills and Hollywood will definitely appear at your pit stop. The city is loud, lively & fun, while its prices are also corresponding to the surrounding. If you are still in San Diego you will get to LA in 6 hours since there are only 150 miles of distance.

5. Palm Springs

Source:tripsavvy.com

Did you know that around 40% of Palm Spring residents are LGBT+? Palm Springs is only a 30-minute drive away from LA, covered in its bright, funky & unique appearance to offer the world. If you wish to get really fancy & boujee – this is the destination for you! Enjoy its hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses, and spas.

6. Your budget

What is your budget like, or how much do you plan on spending? For most, an average daily budget for a California road trip is between $75-$150 per person. This price point can cover your gas, a rental car, lodging, food, drinks, and entry to some more affordable attractions. Prices can vary nowadays due to different COVID-19 regulations, and some attractions might be closed so heads up before you include them in your budget.

7. Loads of different parks

If you are someone who likes the outdoor lifestyle & nature – make sure that you visit different National parks. Death Valley, Joshua Tree & Kings Canyon are just some of them that may intrigue you.

FAQ about National parks

  1. How much time will you want to spend in one park?

You can explore the majority of the parks by car in a day, but you can also enjoy outdoor hiking adventures! It is up to you to customize or limit your stay.

  1. Is it possible to spend the night at these parks?

These stays are possible, although often-times quite pricey and they may not be within your California-traveling budget.

  1. Are there some dangerous animals?

California is filled with different kinds of wildlife. If you and your friends & family are interested in exploring and getting in tune with your wild (nature-loving) side, this should be on your list.

Need some more help & guidance on planning your trip?

Do you feel like California is your next dream & must-see location? If so, make sure that you are equipped accordingly and with the right knowledge, facts, as well as tips & tricks on how to prepare for the trip.

In fact, you can plan your perfect California road trip using the US travel blog https://www.travelthefoodforthesoul.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-pacific-coast-highway.

They have different routes planned & mapped out, as well as great recommendations on what to see in each city. They also have different distances covered from main attractions & stops. Give them a click and have the time of your life while being and feeling prepared!


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com