California Road Trip Must See/Do/Eat/Stay

Hi everyone! Planning a fortnight long California road trip for May next year.
We’ll be driving from San Francisco, along the coast to LA and finishing the trip in Palm Springs.

Would love to hear if anyone has any recommendations for places to see, stay, eat or just any tips in general!

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I still kick myself for not going to Chez Panisse last time I was in San Francisco – it’s just over the bridge in Oakland and is the stuff of legends: Chez Panisse


Dreamy! Me and my partner did this over the summer.
Firstly, San Fran is so COLD! make sure you pack some jumpers, we assumed because it was California it would be warm, but we were so wrong haha!
We stayed in The Palihotel and really loved it, it was in a great location (we walked everywhere!) and the rooms were really nice. If you can go to a baseball game in San Fran, it is really worth it. The stadium in on the water and the atmosphere is incredible. You have to go down to Boudin on the pier and try the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, it’s the original! And also check out the palace of fine arts if you get a chance.

We stopped quite a lot on our route down to LA, so a few places we loved on route were:

  • Ano Neuvo Park, great hike and the elephant seals are fab to see
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium and the old fishermans wharf
  • The whitest beaches at Carmel
  • Point Sur State Historic Park
  • Hearst Castle in San Simeon was STUNNING and the history behind the hearst family is so interesting
  • Solvang, this little danish town in the heart of California

I could recommend hundreds of things, so do let me know if you need anymore!
Have the best time!

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I second Hearst Castle! the best day out
If you have time to deviate to Yosemite it’s extraordinary, and you only need to allow two nights or so
Rogue but the Disney museum in San Francisco is brilliant
also in LA the Ivy on Robertson is a must for weekend lunch, track down the Yeastie Boys for the best bagel, and Petty Cash Taqueria is the best Mexican

Noted! Thanks Heather!

Amazing, thank you! Saved all of these spots.

Thank you for these! So excited!

Also, make sure not to miss Musee Mechanique in SF. It’s a museum dedicated to old arcade games and it’s so fun (you can still play on them all) – I’d also make sure to plan a stay in Santa Barbara on your way down the coast!

Paradise Cove is a really nice little beach close to Malibu, I think they filmed Baywatch there. It has a really fun diner too, so worth a visit if you are road tripping and it works as a stop! The Malibu Farm is a great restaurant (and cafe)literally on the pier.
Have fun!

Amazing! I would recommend staying at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs! Also doing a mid century architecture tour there and in LA. Chateau Marmont in LA is fun

We did a road trip from San Francisco all the way to San Diego in August - real trip of a lifetime!
In SF, we hired bikes for the day and had a guided tour around the city and across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. If you head to Pier 39 on the harbour, there’s a lot of sea lions. Food-wise, I’d really recommend The Stinking Rose for all things garlic.
If you have time, I second Charlotte on going to Yosemite, we stayed for 2 days and it was breath-taking.
I personally loved Monterey, so definitely worth stopping there! You can also go whale watching from Monterey, or head a bit further down the coast to San Louis Obispo (SLO) where you can do the same.
Santa Barbara is great for all things shopping so defo worth stopping there for a few days! We stayed at the Mar Monte Hotel on the coast, but there’s a lot of other great hotels there.

I did a month California road trip and it was the best experience i’ve ever had!
We started in San Fran and worked down to LA then Anaheim and then Vegas!
Monterey was great for a whale watching trip! Beverly Hills was beautiful!

I loved San Fran but stayed near the fishermans warf area which i much preferred to the city personally!

Yosemite is definitely worth a visit for the incredible views!
And Lake Tahoe is incredible! Its known for being a ski resort area but we went in summer and they have little beaches on the incredible lakes which are amazing!

If you’re driving down the Pacific Coast Highway I’d recommend a stoat the Madonna Inn. It’s the quirkiest hotel/restaurant/cafe which you definitly won’t find anywhere else. Imagine Barbie meets Unicorn.

For other interesting stops and fun places we always check the Atlas Obscura as well as.

Santa Barbara was one of my favourite stops along the West Coast! Definitely recommend the Toma Restaurant which is a really nice authentic Italian restaurant on the water. If you’re in that area I’d also really recommend a hike around Montecito - lovely nature and insane houses to look at!

My husband, my daughter and I also did this trip. I would definitely recommend hiring a 4X4 if you are driving along the PCH and a stop on the PCH is at the elephant seal point - you will see HUNDREDs of basking elephant seals lying on the beach - sunset :wink: is a great time to catch them.

Whale watching in Monterey. Go to the small restaurants in Carmel and do go to Napa if you are in San Fran, it is extremely romantic and has such charm.

Been a long time but my ex and I did an unforgettable road trip around California.
Palm Springs - blue coyote for margaritas the size of your head! Fisherman’s grill and market for food and great atmosphere, everyone was so chatty and live music too when we went. Head up the cable car to Mt Jacinto Park, the views are amazing and there’s different air up there!
Yosemite - as already mentioned just beautiful it will take your breath away especially the view from ‘tunnel view’.
San Francisco - we didn’t get long here, I want to go back but loved the laid back feel, we did Alcatraz at dusk which added to the atmosphere and a wine tasting tour in sonoma which was fun and there’s great food at the cheese factory there.
Calico ghost town was a random stop we made to break up a journey but a bit of touristy fun!

Hi, Southern California girl here! :slight_smile: I highly recommend Santa Barbara. It is one of my absolute most favorite places. Hotel Californian is stunning, there are so many cute shops, and if you like wine definitely check out the tasting rooms all around downtown (Margerum and Melville are two of my favorite). If you have time while you’re in SF, Napa is not far. El Matador beach in Malibu is my absolute favorite, it’s so pretty. I also second going to Paradise Cove & Malibu Farm. Idk if you’re planning on going past Santa Monica, but the Palos Verdes Peninsula is so beautiful (not too far south of Santa Monica) and Terranea is my favorite resort in the area. It is set on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. They have amazing restaurants and the spa is incredible. I recommend going up to the Griffith Observatory, but if you can do it on a week day, it gets really crowded on the weekend.

If you need any other recommendations let me know!

We wrote a piece on site about this yesterday!
Read more here: How To Plan A Family Road Trip Around California | SheerLuxe

SL x