A photography guide and California Road Trip ideas, brought to you by Navdy and a California girl that knows the State more than most!
Psss.. tell Dorthy she should have followed the Golden Coast. The Yellow Brick Road has nothing on Highway 101 — a route to beaches, lakes, valleys, and internationally sought-out cities. A photography guide to the most epic of California road trips, browse through these iconic destinations to create the California Road Trip itinerary that is right for you.
In this post:
– How to Prep for a California Road Trip
– California Road Trip Ideas
– Unique Things to Do in California
– Great Photo Spots in California
– Best California National Parks
– Best California Beach Cities
– Resources/ More Information on Destinations
How to prepare for a California Road Trip
Start in Silicon Valley or sunny San Diego, there’s no right or wrong answer with your path preference. There’s three ways you can cover the sunshine coast:
- Fly into major California cities and road trip Southern California and Northern California separately. For example, if you are staying in Los Angeles, you can use it as your home base while exploring San Diego, Orange County and Santa Barbara. Then, flying to San Francisco to cover the Bay Area, Big Sur, Yosemite and the other national parks.
- Alternatively, start in either San Diego or San Francisco, looping — taking the coast one way, and the inner national parks the other way, and returning to your starting point.
- Lastly, start your trip in one city, road trip the State, pay a one-way car rental drop-off-fee, and fly to your next destination.
After checking out these photos of my favorite destinations, you can add them to Google Maps to route out your master plan. Check out Navdy, a brand new driving device that projects your navigation and notifications such as text and phone calls out in front of you for a safer and all around better experience for your road trip.
Consider these California Road Trip Ideas
Shared South to North, here are some of my favorite California photography destinations, beaches, national parks, and cities!
La Jolla Cove – San Diego, California
Shopping, snorkeling, scuba and ocean-front restaurants compliment sandstone cliffs and sea-lions at play.
Potato Chip Rock – San Diego, California
A three hour hike at Mt. Wood Summit, Potato Chip Rock will have you feeling like the Lion King.
Newport Beach, California
Dock and dine on a yacht, indulge in spa and golf experiences, or rent bikes to cruise from Newport Beach to Huntington Beach and back. Feeling adventurous? Jetpack America will have you flying; re-defining an out of sea experience!
Laguna Beach, California
Worth the “1,000 steps” staricase, have a picnic in Crystal Cove State Park or pack up for a bonfire at Aliso Beach. Pick any one of the top nine beaches for a proper California sunset!
Santa Monica, California
Time to live like an Angelelino! In the coast of Los Angeles, check out Santa Monica Pier, bars and restaurants… and definitely, do brunch! Buzzing with concerts, artwork and millennials — consider Malibu for a more remote escape.
Venice Beach, California
The home of Abbot Kinney and Venice Skate Park, a bike tour is an easy way to explore Venice. Wrap up your day with a rooftop bar on the oceanside.
Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, California
After checking out the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame and Mann Chinese Theater, shop on Rodeo Drive, snap a photo at LACMA, then head to the Griffith Observatory for a view of the skyline and Hollywood Sign in one spot.
Inyo National Park, California
If you prefer camping over night clubs, a nine mile hike in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas may be right for you!
Santa Barbara, California
Known as a go-to wedding destination and all-around attraction for relaxation, explore the Channel Islands by kayak before a hike, wine-tasting or helicopter experience.
Big Sur, California
Make way for Bixy Bridge and McWay Falls — these might just be the highlight of your trip!
San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks View Point, and the Painted Ladies will have you writing your own song about San Francisco. Alternatively, live like the locals and check out a Giants game for all-American baseball.
Point Reyes National Sea Shore, California
The only destination that I’ve listed and haven’t experienced myself, Point Reyes is famed for cliffs over-looking the beach.
Napa Valley, California
Calling all wine-o-s! From trendy downtown Napa to the country vineyards, learn about the heart of the world’s best red, white and bubbly.
Whether riding the winter wave via ski and snowboard, or experiencing spas and hikes during the summer, Tahoe is perfect for families, dates or friend trips.
Yosemite National Park, California
One of the most iconic, most-Instagram worthy destinations in the world, unplug in Yosemite. Reserve camping or book a luxe hotel that brings the outdoors inside.
Redwood National Forest, California
State and national parks of gigantic proportions, there is a warmth to the earth when its trees boast ruby roots.
What California road trip ideas would add to this list?
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