The TrekAmerica Guide to…California

  • TreK America Van on road in California

One of the hottest states around, and a great place to soak up some of that California sun! Whether it’s your first visit to the States or you’ve been around a bit, there’s always something new to discover on a California road trip. From vibrant cities to the lush forest of the inner reaches of the state, you might just love the Golden State so much, you won’t want to leave!

Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign, Los AngelesLos Angeles, CaliforniaSanta Monica Beach

Come in search of Hollywood glamour, and you might just leave a little star-struck. Los Angeles is the movie-star dream, and there’s plenty to explore within the sprawling city limits. For a true celebrity-style shopping experience, take a walk through the infamous Beverly Hills neighbourhood. If your budget won’t quite stretch to a pair of Gucci shades, pick up a bag of treats from Instagram-friendly sweet emporium Sugarfina instead.

Hollywood Boulevard is a must, and a visit is included on most of our Western USA tours that begin and end in Los Angeles. Take a walk along the star-studded pavements, and get that selfie with the Hollywood sign in the background! If you’ve got some time to spare in the area, Venice Beach is packed with locals soaking up the sun, as well as artists, street performers and muscle-bound types in their swimwear. Perfect for people-watching! For an extra taste of beach life, take a trip to Santa Monica and play some retro arcade games along the pier.

Santa Barbara

Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara

Referred to as the ‘California Riviera’, Santa Barbara is all about sunshine, sand and shoreline. Taking inspiration from the Mediterranean, Downtown Santa Barbara teems with quaint buildings, reflecting the city’s Spanish colonial influence. Expand your cultural horizons with a visit to Santa Barbara Art Museum, home to over 27,000 works of art.

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Yosemite National Park

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is the lush, leafy crown on top of any California road trip. Granite peaks stretch even higher than the towering sequoias, and if you squint up at Half Dome, you might just see some tiny ant-like humans making their way up this humungous rock.

If you’ve not got the time or…y’know, available effort to do something QUITE so major, don’t worry – there are still plenty of awesome views to be found in Yosemite. The Mist Trail hike takes you up some of the park’s most stunning water features – first Vernal Fall, then Nevada Fall. It’s one of the most popular short hikes in the park.

Staying on flat ground more your style? Take a hike or bike along to Mirror Lake if it’s the right time of year, and catch the reflections of the peaks above mirrored perfectly in its waters. If you’re lucky, you might spot a herd of deer crossing your path too…

San Francisco

Street in San FranciscoGolden Gate Bridge, San FranciscoAlcatraz Island, San Francisco

If you’re spending some extra time in San Fran at the end of your California tour, or have a free day there, we’d definitely recommend a visit to the infamous Alcatraz prison. Top tip – book in advance! Once you’ve made your prison break back to shore, Pier 39 is packed with tasty seafood restaurants, quirky seaside attractions and of course, the playful seals that often make an appearance.

Further away from the ocean shore, the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood is a must visit for all things, vintage, bohemian and quirky. Fly the flag for LGBT pride in the Castro district, with its welcoming and colourful vibes. Getting hungry again? Grab dinner at one of the many eateries in Little Italy – serving up some of the best pizza and pasta dishes in the city.

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The California Coast

California coastline

With miles of pristine coastline ahead of you, there’s few better road trips in the USA than the Cali coast. Spend a night under the stars at San Luis Obispo, and take a dip in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.

San Diego

Mission Beach, San DiegoBalboa Park, San Diego

If you’re feeling a bit exhausted from your California road trip adventures, San Diego is the perfect spot to relax and unwind. Mission Beach is the city’s best known sandy spot, with two miles of coastline. Take a stroll or a relaxed bike ride along the boardwalk, take part in some beach volleyball or get your thrills on the Giant Dipper rollercoaster.

If you’re more into greenery than sand, the sprawling expanse of Balboa Park is teeming with green spaces, urban forest and beautiful buildings to take in. And from the Cabrillo National Monument, you can soak in views that stretch all the way to Mexico. For nightlife? The Gaslamp Quarter is THE place to be.

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