California Road Trip Itinerary

Here's a round-up of our Californian Road Trip. We thought it important to share the more practical side of what we did because when we were planning it ourselves we struggled to find anything online that really helped much. Maybe we didn't look hard enough or maybe we got overwhelmed by all the information... 

Firstly we'd like to thank our good friend Kat for giving us the confidence to just book the thing and get on with it. Kat travelled around the world for her (13 month!) honeymoon and she's our go-to whenever we need a) inspiration for where to go and b) practical advice because the chances are that she's probably been there before. There are also a few other people that we watched do a similar trip a few weeks before we did it and they were also a huge help for us; you can see Mat's trip on his blog here

We flew into Las Vegas because, well, that's what they did... We hired a car, went to the nearest Vons (it's a supermarket chain) to stock up on snacks, WATER and to generally get our bearings before heading out on the road. 

Our trip:

We drove through Joshua Tree as the sun was setting and onto the highway towards Palm Springs. If we did this again I think we'd spend much more time through the National Park but as it was getting dark and we'd been travelling all day we just wanted to get to the hotel and get some sleep. 

We stayed 1 night in Palm Springs - glorious

Later the next day we headed to Los Angeles where we stayed for 2 nights. We paid for valet parking at our hotel in LA which made life easy. On our full day in LA we drove up to Santa Monica and a bit further up the coast, we also went to Griffith Observatory to see the Hollywood sign and visited Cactus Store in Echo Park

From LA we drove to Monterey (see that post to know why we didn't drive Route 1 all the way along the coast - we'll save that for next time!) and down through Big Sur. We arrived in San Francisco that evening. 

We stopped in San Francisco for 2 nights and kept the car parked in a valet that the hotel recommended for the whole time. We went everywhere on foot in SF purely because we wanted to see the city that way and felt like we'd been in the car for way too long already! 

From San Francisco we took a leisurely drive to a town called Mariposa where we stayed for 1 night. We got up early the next day to see Yosemite and ended up on the other side as the sun was setting in a town called Bishop. There we stayed 1 night. 

The next morning we drove through Death Valley and straight into Las Vegas. We stayed in Las Vegas for 2 nights and then flew to New York for another 2 nights before catching our flight back to the UK. 

Things that we discovered that we would tell ourselves if we did it again: 

- Hire a car with a decent fuel tank. We were a bit silly because we just had a tiny thing (a Mitsubishi Mirage) which was totally fine but we had to fill it up everywhere we could to make sure we didn't run the risk of getting stranded with no gas. Next time we would definitely hire a bigger car. 

- We arranged our car before we flew out. Loads of people told us to do this so that we could shop around to get a good deal. We also went all the way with the insurance so we were covered whatever happened - even if we ran out of fuel somewhere. 

- At gas stations if you pay cash you pre-pay it in the shop and then fill up. You can collect your change afterwards. 

- Stock up on water. We drank looooooads and it made life much easier to just have it all in the car instead of having to find somewhere. Plus it's advised in case something does break down etc and you're in the middle of 45 degree heat. 

- If you can spend a night or 2 in Yosemite do it. 

{ This post is part of our USA 2017 Trip }

California road trip.
California road trip.
California road trip. Palm trees in Palm Springs.
The Pacific Ocean from Santa Monica Pier.

The Pacific Ocean from Santa Monica Pier.

California road trip.
California road trip.
Grasses in Californian wine country - somewhere near Santa Barbara. 

Grasses in Californian wine country - somewhere near Santa Barbara. 

Low-flying jets over Star Wars Canyon in Death Valley. 

Low-flying jets over Star Wars Canyon in Death Valley. 

California road trip. Oil fields.
California road trip.
California road trip.
California road trip.
California road trip. Motel.
California road trip. Motel carpet.
Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur.

Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur.

The view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. 

The view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. 

California road trip. Yosemite National Park.
California road trip.
California road trip. Yosemite National Park.
California road trip.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley. 

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley. 

The (bizarre) Cabazon Dinosaurs in between Palm Springs and LA. 

The (bizarre) Cabazon Dinosaurs in between Palm Springs and LA. 

California road trip.
California road trip.
California road trip. Succulents.
Sunset over Joshua Tree National Park. 

Sunset over Joshua Tree National Park.