It was bound to happen – the ultimate road trip – California road trip. This one has it all – metropolitan cities, wilderness, and coastline.
The first part we'll dedicate to the urban culture, while the second part will be more wildish – reconnecting with nature to lower our stress levels – explore further, go deeper and get wilder.
For this one, you’ll need to hire a car, since there is no public transportation that allows you to do this road trip. Moreover, there are lots of benefits when driving in your (hired) car – you can stop whenever you feel like it, enjoy the cool breeze, and listen to your music.
California, here we come!
The starting point – San Francisco
The city of lights lies on the Northern coast of California. San Francisco is a city that refuses to be mediocre. Everything is full of extremes, their food, streets, people. Each thing looks and feels like out of this world.
San Francisco’s pride and symbol is without a doubt the Haight Ashbury Street – the nest of hippie revolution.
San Frisco can be a bit of a culture shock – you'll see some really weird places & meet really bizarre people – maybe they'll be wearing only their birthday suit (jp, it is legal to be naked as a jaybird in San Francisco)– but hey, you're here to see the different, the extraordinary, to experience California.
There is also famous dock Pier 39 full of sea lions – this one you don’t see every day –it’s like landing in the middle of a zoo.
Other places of interest:
- Twin Peaks
- Golden Gate Bridge
- China town
And of course, there is food – San Francisco has some really hardcore foodie scene. Carnivores will most surely enjoy the House of prime rib – the aroma of roasted beef will turn you into drooling fool.
For even more local scene you need to head to Oakland – and search for a Taco Truck Ojo de Agua – they serve the best tacos in town.
2nd stop – Monterey Peninsula
Landing in Monterey. A mixture of charming old-town atmosphere and alluring beaches. There is plenty to do and discover here. Be sure to visit Gallery – Dali17 – that's where things are about to get surreal. Named after Carmel's 17-Mile Drive, this Museum exhibits the most extensive private collection in the US of master's work. If you're out of ideas, here is one: Carmel-by-the-sea provides numerous options and activities – everything from art experiences, wine tasting, shopping, parks, and hikes. There's no lack of things to do here. Staying on the track – another must see, must do is Big Sur for sure: »…when you are convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird. The miracle is that the honey is always there, right under your nose, only you were too busy searching elsewhere to realize it. The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.« These words of Henry Miller are dedicated to the miraculous Big Sur. Long gone are the days of solitude and peace, now Big Sur has become a top tourist attraction – but still, you'll find it full of hippies and self-proclaimed artists. For local cuisine, and great views visit restaurant Nepenthe.
3rd stop – San Simeon
Your drive on Highway 1 takes you to San Simeon. San Simeon is a specific city due to its wildlife. This little community is home to herding zebras, elephant seals fighting for the affection of their potential spouses, and baby whales playing with their mothers. When in San Simeon you'll surely want to see the famous Hearst Castle – California Historical Landmark. This mansion was a residence built for media mogul William Hearst (W.H. built the nation's largest newspaper chain and was a pioneer in yellow journalism style) and Hears Castle is one of the world's most visited castles.
San Sebastian is a great family restaurant to stop while driving along the coast.
4th stop of your road trip is Los Angeles – the city of dreams. LA is a top model compared to NY. The city of angels is a New York’s nightmare. It's the city of young and beautiful. Everything and everyone look like sent from a god. And the citizens of LA are one of the most friendly, kind, and open-minded we've ever met. You're here, and you're not Hank Moody, but that's OK – you're in the city of eternal sunshine.
- When in LA Venice Beach is a must – it's the place where you can ride the waves, take a walk through Venice Canals, or watch the street performers on the boardwalk.
- Rodeo Drive – Pretty woman made her dream come true here, while you can do some window shopping – the heart of Beverlly Hills is reeeeally expensive.
- Visit Little Tokyo – it's where California roll was invented, and where you can have your »Zen time« in many of their Buddhist temples or Japanese gardens.
Joshua Tree National Park
Our journey is going to the wild side now. Nature reconnects us, it heals and bonds.
This American National park will bring your senses alive. It's the fireworks of colors. When you've had enough of the desert, the rocks and the Cholla Cactuses, head to Pioneertown – the vegetation is pretty much the same, but it is more lively. In this »fake town« you can enjoy some surprisingly good music, and food (ribs and burgers).
The inhospitable and unforgiving desert that reminds you of your insignificance – Death Valley is a lifeless and hot corner of the earth. Even volcanos went extinct here. However, to experience the emptiness that is full you need to visit this place of extremes – it is stunning without a doubt. Also, why not have a burger in the desert? Toll Road restaurant is where they serve best.
The next stop on your road trip is a mall town with a great character. Lone Pine is a place if you’re looking for freedom. This grandiose terrain provided the setting for numerous films – from B westerns to classics. Check out their Museum of Western Film History.
Sequoia National Park
The almighty mother nature – everlasting, grandiose, immortal, glorious, and heroic – all this and more is the Sequoia National Park. It's hard to find the words to describe this place – that's why you need to check it out for yourself. For a roast beef sandwich stop at the Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge.
Yosemite National Park – the end of your epic road trip
Here we are – at the end of your California road trip. Sure, there are a lot more places of interest along the way, but the highlight of this journey is the drive itself. By now you undoubtedly feel the reverence, respect, and piety towards mother nature. However, we've saved the best part of the road trip for last – here is the Yosemite National Park. If you’re adventurous type, Yosemite is the best playground you’ve ever seen - you can fish, cycle, kayak, or even ride. The home of towering waterfalls will astound you, it will leave you breathless, and you will fall head over heels when you visit the Glacier Point for the sparkling views of the Yosemite Valley.