California has always been the pinnacle of United States travel with its sandy beaches, expansive deserts, snowy mountains and lush forests. People flock from all over the world to experience the diversity of landscapes available for exploring during every season. For those that live in California and want to escape for a long weekend, or travelers looking to take the scenic route through The Golden State, these California road trip destinations are one of the best ways to appreciate the beautiful variety of surroundings that California has to offer.
Just a few hours outside of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara makes for an effortless weekend escape. The fresh air is easy to get used to as you picnic at Arroyo Burro Beach or take a walk through Stearns Wharf, a historical pier with calming ocean views. You’ll also get a dose of California history by visiting Mission Santa Barbara, a Spanish mission built with colonial architecture. Spend the night at the Belmond El Encanto Resort for a private, luxury experience with picturesque views of the city. Stop in to Yoichi’s for a Japanese, seafood dinner or The Lark if you’re craving artisanal, American eats.
Make your way up to this Central Coast destination to get in touch with Mother Earth. Go for a hike at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which has plenty of trails and local wildlife to see along the way. Stop off at McWay Falls to witness the 80-foot waterfall that’s sure to make for an iconic photo op. You can also head to the Carmel River Sate Beach to soak up the sun and scuba dive in the natural lagoon. As for your stay, you’ll feel on top of the world if you book at the Post Ranch Inn, which features dramatic views of the endless ocean horizon. Dine at their award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant, or reserve a table at Nepenthe for relaxing, oceanside cuisine.
A bustling tech hub in Northern California, San Francisco is a destination worth visiting for its food, activities, and culture as one of the state’s biggest landmarks. Head to the Conservatory of Flowers to see the thousands of blossoms in the museum-like greenhouse. Haight-Ashbury is the perfect shopping destination for vintage finds, while Mission Dolores Park gives you a destination to enjoy the breezy weather with the locals. Retreat to Nob Hill and try the Scarlet Huntington hotel for an eclectic stay, or the Fairmont for an elegant experience. If Italian food is on your mind, SPQR will hit the spot with handmade pastas that will astound your senses.
| Read More: Our Favorite Cocktail Bars in San Francisco |
Just over six hours from Los Angeles, and one hour North of San Francisco, Napa is world-renowned for its wine country as hundreds of vineyards populate the city’s rolling hills. Since the 1970s, countless wineries have sprouted up throughout the area with the region providing the perfect soil and climate for rich, quality flavors. Wineries all over the city offer tours and tastings for you to sip from your new favorite label. You won’t be able to leave Napa Valley without experiencing the tasting menu at legendary restaurant The French Laundry. But if you have a taste for classic Japanese dishes, Miminashi might be a hot spot worth trying.
| Read More: The Best Wineries to Visit in California |
| Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles |
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