California coast to yosemite road trip

Trinity Scenic Byways

Cruising this secluded corner of California you’ll pass majestic peaks, tranquil lakes and historic mountain towns, experiencing both rugged nature and backcountry hospitality. The Trinity Scenic Byway takes visitors from one of California’s most distinctive mountains to the Pacific shore, passing ample natural wonders and sophisticated small towns along the way.

The back-to-landers, outdoorsy types and new-age escapists in this remote corner of Northern California proudly count the number of stoplights and fast-food joints in their counties on one hand. Highlights include towering Mt Shasta, the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Weaverville, a rugged little mountain town with a fascinating history. 

Go between June and October when the lakes and rivers are at their fullest, and be sure to snap a photo at Santiago Calatrava’s futuristic Sundial Bridge.

A rose garden grows in front of the Santa Barbara Mission. Ron_Thomas/Getty Images

Day 5: Santa Cruz to South Lake Tahoe

I woke up early the next morning, grabbed some coffee and headed over to my favorite place in  Santa Cruz. My brother and I used to meet up at a spot called Pleasure Point to go surfing when I was in collage in San Francisco and he was in Monterey. It’s a fun little surf spot and there’s a nice path that goes along the top of the cliffs with great views. It’s a great place for a walk and on any given morning you’ll see tons of people jogging, walking their dogs, and strolling their kids along the path. I took a nice little walk down memory lane and watched the surfers paddle out into the morning line up.

After my walk I figured it was time to hit the road, I had one more beach I was interested in checking out before heading east and up into the mountains.

Wilder Ranch State Park is known for its beautiful trails that wind out and around the bluffs. You can hike, bike, or horseback ride the trails and there is a museum with a bit of history as well.

I took the opportunity to get in a little hiking, the trails are fairly flat and easy so it’s more like a walk, but still really nice. The trails take you out along the cliffs and it feels wonderfully wild, with the ocean waves crashing against the rocks, the wind in your hair, and hardly any sign of civilization near by.

After realizing I’d spent probably a little too much time hiking around I headed back to my car to begin the drive home. I’d be getting back to Tahoe a bit later than I’d planned but it was worth it. From there I headed north and east through San Jose and Sacramento getting home in about five hours.

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Day One: RV Pick Up and Drive to Huntington Beach

After a good night’s rest it was time to start our road trip. This road trip was via an RV so first we needed to pick up the one we rented. Like our previous Southwest and Nevada road trips we rented our RV from Outdoorsy. You can sign up here for $50 off your rental.

Once we were situated with our RV it was time to hit the road. While Huntington Beach is only 36 miles from LAX this is LA so expect traffic until you get out of the city. It took us an hour to get to downtown Huntington Beach. When we arrived we had lunch at Pacific Hideaway which was excellent, the wings tacos, fresh guac, everything was great!

After stuffing our faces we walked over to Havaianas where we were able to create our own sandals. This was by far my daughters favorite activity on the trip. She really left thinking she was a shoe maker, well I guess she was. Here you can pick your own sole, straps and a charm to go on the straps. How did ours come out?

Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA so it’s only right that you check out the Surfing Walk of Fame and Surfer’s Hall of Fame while in town. We fell in love with surfing on our trip to Costa Rica so it was nice to learn more about the sport.

We then walked along the Huntington Beach Pier where there are 50 arts and crafts vendors who you can shop from. My dad and daughter decided to get their caricatures drawn. The pier is also a great place to watch the many surfers catching waves. There are a few stores at the end of the place you can browse but don’t leave before the sunsets, it’s gorgeous from here!

For dinner we ate at Duke’s which is right at the foot of the pier. Make a reservation to get a table by the window for water views. They have a cute shaved ice station along with a menu filled with fresh seafood options.

We booked two nights at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina for our time in Huntington Beach. We absolutely loved this RV park. There are lakefront RV spots, a playground, pool, laundry room, and recreation center with staff who do activities with the kids.

It was also extremely clean with a convenient store and picnic tables at each spot. Even if you aren’t RVing you can dry camp here in a tent or rent a cottage.

Highway 395

Getty Images

Start: Los Angeles

End: Mammoth Lakes

Distance: Approximately 430 miles

This stretch of highway connects Southern California with the Eastern Sierra mountains up north. Most people start this iconic road trip in L.A., making their way out of the city and into the world of lakes, hikes, and bizarre roadside attractions. You won’t want to miss a visit to Alabama Hills, a formation of rounded rocks at the base of the Sierra Nevada (or miss the area’s famous Mobius Arch, which perfectly frames Mount Whitney). Before leaving, drop by the Manzanar National Historic Site, the American concentration camp where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.

San Luis Obispo: The SLO-est Town in the West

Any epic California road trips on the Pacific coast include a stop at the Madonna Inn (and a convertible too)—it’s classic Americana.

One of California’s oldest communities, San Luis Obispo is located in the middle of California’s central coast wine country. And it’s as culturally rich as it is beautiful.

Stop by this stunning city for a breezy outdoor lunch or spend an afternoon touring the history museum and art galleries (The Madonna Inn might as well be an art gallery in itself—this place is a Californian icon!). But no matter what you do in San Luis Obispo, you’ll probably find it hard to hit the road again.

Don’t miss: Mission Plaza is the heart of San Luis Obispo, and, on weekends, live concerts and other community events take place there. During the week, take a seat on a bench to enjoy the sun and people watch.

Road Tripping the California Coast: Day 3

Santa Barbara Surfing

A few years ago I went to Oregon and Washington where I dipped my toes in the water on the west coast for the first time. Clearly, I needed to go all in, so EJ and I did a surf lesson.

Our lesson was half a day and included both board and wet suit rentals as well as lunch! It was the perfect amount of time to learn the basics and try to catch some waves.

Book your Surf Lesson Today!

Dustin was our teacher for the morning and he was the best. He really knew his stuff, was super chill, and he did everything he could to get us up on the board.

It was EJs first time surfing and he nailed it! Got up on his first wave. I, however, took a little time, even though I had done it before, but I ended up catching a few waves with Dustin’s help and I even got one all on my own!

Our lesson made me so pumped about surfing. I wish I lived closer to the ocean so I could do it more.

If you’re not into the idea of surfing, but want to be outside and in the water, head over to Channel Islands National Park. The Ferry leaves from both Ventura and Santa Barbara. You can go kayaking in the Channel Islands and see what this amazing park has to offer. They don’t call it the Galapagos Islands of California for nothing.

Explore Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara is one of the cutest downtown areas I’ve ever seen. We started off our time in Santa Barbara by browsing the local shops along Main Street.

As we got closer to the water we saw the pier (which ended up being a wharf), and in keeping with our trend on this trip, we explored it. On Santa Barbara’s Stern’s Wharf there visitors can go to the Sea Center, which is part of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. They have displays of sea creatures and hands on activities all about the ocean. My favorite was the jelly fish exhibit on the second floor.

After we left the Wharf EJ used his sixth sense and found a winery for us to go in. At Paradise Springs Winery we made friends with the bar tender and she told us that Santa Barbara Funk Zone.

The Funk Zone is a revitalization project to bring more businesses into the area. There are wineries, restaurants, and art galleries in the Funk Zone.

As amazing as all of this is we sat at the bar at Paradise Springs Winery and got a little tipsy. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Book a Funk Zone Food and Photo Tour

San Diego to Palm Springs

Southern California’s deserts can be brutally hot, barren places – escape to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, where shady fan-palm oases and date gardens await. Palm Springs is just two hours from San Diego, so you don’t even have to go far to take in the dramatic shift from coastline to desert.

Just a short drive from the chic resorts of Palm Springs, the vast Mojave and Sonoran Deserts are serenely spiritual places. You may find that what at first looked like desolate sands transform on foot into perfect beauty: shady palm tree and cactus gardens, tiny wildflowers pushing up from hard-baked soil in spring, natural hot-springs pools for soaking, and uncountable stars overhead in the inky dark.

February to April is a great stretch to visit if you want spring wildflower blooms and cooler temperatures.

Elk Point and Pyramid Peak reflected in Lake Tahoe, California, USA. Jeffrey Kreulen/500px

Carmel-by-the-Sea: The Most Charming Town

Route 1 in Carmel-By-The-Sea

With its rugged coastal views from the scenic bluff path and also its quaint European-style architecture, there is no place in California like Carmel-by-the Sea—and that’s why it’s a can’t-miss stop on your Highway 101 road trip through California.

With its bay-windowed cottages covered in moss, gardens, cobblestone courtyards and secret passageways, this unique European-style village will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale. There are no mailboxes, addresses or parking meters.

It does, however, have boutique shopping and a burgeoning arts and wine scene.

The best place to explore the city’s array of specialty boutiques is on and around Ocean Avenue. As you wander along, be sure to head down any alley or passage that grabs your attention—the area is ripe for exploration.

Don’t miss: For some jaw-dropping coastal views and a glimpse into how the one percent live, pay the $10.25 admission fee (cash only) and drive the 17-Mile Drive through the gated community of Pebble Beach, famous for its world-class golf course. Trust me—it’s worth it.

Big Sur: Stunning California Coastline

One of the most picturesque views on the best road trip California has to offer.

Perhaps one of the most rugged stretches on this California coast road trip itinerary is Big Sur, which is bordered by the Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and by the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Known for its sparse population and stunning natural beauty, don’t be surprised if this part of your road trip itinerary takes a while to navigate—not just because of the windy and mountainous road, but also because you’ll pull over every few minutes to snap pictures and take in the views of the rugged Pacific coast.

Don’t miss: For up-close and personal views of California’s redwood trees, make a stop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This park also features an 80-foot waterfall and panoramic views of the granite cliff coastline and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

Where is the Pacific Coast Highway? How long is it?

The Pacific Coast Highway has many names.

You can also recognize it by its abbreviation (PCH), and referred to as the California Coast toad trip, Pacific Coast Highway road trip, Route 1, Highway 101 (through Washington and Oregon), or even just Highway 1 (in California).

All names aside, they all lead you down the same road, which is the route that parallels the Pacific Ocean and the western border of the contiguous United States.

The traditional Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) is 655 miles long. The full Pacific Coast Highway (Orange County to Seattle) is just over 1,700 miles.

We’ll be talking about the entire Pacific Coast Highway itinerary in this blog post. (Seattle to Orange County)

Посетите местные винодельни (близлежащие отели)

Если вы посещаете Сонома, есть вероятность, что вы собираетесь посетить хотя бы несколько местных виноградников и виноделен. К счастью, у вас нет нехватки вариантов, когда вы планируете остановиться в Сономе в одном из близлежащих отелей. Семейные виноградники Джакузи — популярный вариант для гостей, останавливающихся в Сономе, а винодельня Buena Vista находится всего в нескольких милях от городской площади. Среди других интересных мест для любителей вина — винодельня Benziger Family, ранчо Nicholson и погреба Cline. Многие винодельни в этом районе предлагают туры, дегустации, мирные места для отдыха на открытом воздухе, а некоторые даже подходят для собак.

Прогулка вокруг Сонома Плаза и парка

Парк в Сонома Плаза

Day 1-2: San Francisco

I have had so many incredible trips to San Francisco, but this summer I got the chance to see the famous Golden Gate Bridge on its 81st birthday! Every time I visit the Bay Area, I love it even more.

Another site I never get tired of is the Painted Ladies. You can’t see these adorable houses without dreaming about living a quaint little life in one of these gorgeous Victorian and Edwardian homes.

Of course, in San Francisco, it’s all about the coastline. If you’re an SF newbie, make a beeline for Pier 39. Full of one of a kind souvenirs, local eats, and beautiful views, this is a must-do. From there, take your time walking down to Fisherman’s Wharf.

This is the place for ultra-fresh seafood and breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

As you are walking away from Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll run into Ghirardelli Square. This former chocolate factory is now filled with restaurants and shops. And, yes, you can still get mouthwatering chocolate there!

If you have time, you could easily spend more days here exploring all that SF has to offer. Check out 10 Things to Do in San Francisco (That Aren’ the Golden Gate Bridge)!

Huntington Beach

The first stop on our EPIC 7 day California coast road trip is Huntington Beach. It’s one of EJ’s favorite places to hang out, and some consider it one of the best beaches in Southern California so it was a must-do on our trip. He used to live in Southern California so some of the places we’re going are old haunts of his.

Hunting Beach, known as Surf City USA, is everything you think about when it comes to a Southern California beach life. Surf, sand, and sun.

When we first arrived in town we walked around popping into shops and getting some snacks. I may have put a dollar in a Zoltar machine to get my fortune.

With a bag full of food and snacks we headed down to the boardwalk to have a picnic. We sat on a bench and watched surfers catch waves. When we were almost done with lunch a group of lifeguards in training walked down the boardwalk. One of the things they have to do for their training is jump off the boardwalk. It was amazing and scary to watch.

Since we were there on a Sunday there was a concert going on next to the beach. After doing a little research I found out that there are concerts there all the time, along with plenty of other amazing events like car cruises, trivia nights, and fitness events. Click here to see the Huntington Beach Events Calendar.

Discovery Cube Orange County

For those of you who read my blog and follow me on Instagram know, I’m just a big kid. I think being a Nanny and working at Summer Camps has helped me keep my childlike spirit.

When EJ took me for a spin to see his old apartment we drove by the Discovery Cube and decided to check it out. The Discovery Cube OC (there are several throughout Southern California) is a hands-on science museum for kids.

If you have kids and you’re in the area you this is a must-stop on your California coast road trip. They had everything from hands on hockey science, a grocery store game to teach kids how to shop environmentally friendly, a space focused area, and an outside play space featuring a sculpture of a brontosaurus’ anatomy.

We were lucky when we visited because there was a super cool DC Comics Superhero exhibit. Everything was hands on and there were some life-sized figures of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and a few others as well.

Parking is limited so try and get there early, so you don’t have to fight with people for a space.

Downtown Disney

When I was in the area Star Wars Land was opening 4 days later at Disneyland, and I was pretty broke, so unfortunately going to Disneyland, which is on my list of 40 things to do before I turn 40, was not in the cards.

If you’re headed to Disneyland on your 7 day California itinerary, and I hope you are, here are some tips to help you navigate Disneyland.

For all you broke people like me, because as much as I love Disney the tickets are pricey, Downtown Disney is a fun afternoon alternative to get that Disney fix at half the price. I still went all out with a Rapunzel Disneybound and I rocked some homemade mouse ears.

When EJ and I went there parking was a pain in the butt. We drove around for 30 minutes in the parking lot trying to nab a spot. After we found a spot we walked around the Lego store which is filled with Disney character Lego sculptures. My personal favorite is the HUGE Disney store. I didn’t buy anything, but I was tempted by a small work tank top that said love in several different languages.

And we obviously ate a few Mickey Mouse shaped snacks because, Disney.

Los Angeles: The City of Angels

The Hollywood sign is an iconic stop when you’re in Los Angeles on a road trip in California.

After quaint beach towns, the traffic and pace of Los Angeles might shock you. But after so much slow-paced solitude, why not also spend time in the City of Angels?

From high-profile tourist destinations like Universal Studios and Rodeo Drive to a saunter through Venice Beach or a hike in celebrity hot spot Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles is hip and beautiful. Much like the people that call the city home.

Whether you arrive by car, foot or horseback, the Hollywood Sign is an iconic symbol of Los Angeles. Perched in the hills high over the city, numerous hiking trails lead to the sign and views of the city.

You can take the Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail and reach the junction of West Trail and Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail. Just hike one mile with 465 feet of elevation change from Western Canyon. Another option is also 0.2 miles with 65 feet of elevation change from Griffith Observatory.

Or you could also take the Wonder View Trail or Aileen Getty Ridge Trail. They’re about a three miles round trip and begin near Lake Hollywood Drive. Just don’t actually touch the sign once you reach it—or at least don’t get caught touching it!

Avenue of the Giants

The incredible, 32-mile, two-lane stretch of highway known as the Avenue of the Giants is one of the most justifiably celebrated drives in California, and a place where travelers stand with jaws agape and necks craned upward at the canopy.

The route connects a number of small towns with mid-20th-century motels, diners serving ‘lumberjack’ meals and pull-offs parked with Harleys. Visitors would be remiss to drive right past these majestic groves along the Avenue without stopping at the California Federation of Women’s Clubs Grove, home to an interesting four-sided hearth designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan, and the Founders Grove, where the 370ft Dyerville Giant was knocked down in 1991 by another falling tree.

You’ll find free driving guides at roadside signboards at both the avenue’s southern entrance, 6 miles north of Garberville, near Phillipsville, and at the northern entrance, south of Scotia, at Pepperwood; there are access points off Hwy 101. Drive it in the morning, when sunlight glints off dewdrop-laden ferns. 

Sundial Bridge At Turtle Bay Against Cloudy Sky On Sunny Day Christian Richards/EyeEm/Getty Images

Кэмбриа — Мак-Уэй Фолс — Биксби Бридж — 17-ти мильная дорога — Сан-Франциско

Второй день пути не менее интересный чем первый и вот тут начинаешь понимать, что двух дней для такой дороги не так уж и много. Ведь помимо вышеперечисленного есть еще городки Биг-Сур, Кармел и Монтерей, по которым мы просто проехали, но не успели нормально погулять (нужно было сдать авто в Сан-Франциско до 6 вечера, потом объясним почему).

Мы перечислили самые интересные точки маршрута, где сами останавливались, на самом деле остановок было намного больше, из-за того, что дорога второго дня на всём своём протяжении нереально красивая.

Трасса № 1. Калифорния

Мак-Уэй Фолс

Первая достопримечательность находится всего в полутора часах езды от места ночевки. Водопад McWay в бухте на берегу океана однозначно стоит посетить. Вдоль дороги много мест для парковки, но почти все они будут заняты, так что возможно придётся подождать, пока кто-то не уедет. Здесь очень много туристов. Короткая пятнадцатиминутная остановка и воспоминания на всю жизнь.

Биксби Бридж

Дальше, после водопада, проехав около сорока километров, мы доехали до следующей достопримечательности — моста Биксби. Сразу после моста будут места для парковки машины. Машин и здесь тоже будет много, но припарковаться проще. Как видно по фотографиям погода менялась очень часто. Около водопада палило солнце и было ясное и чистое небо, а через 40 километров небо уже было затянуто тучами и срывался дождь.

17-ти мильная дорога (17-Mile Drive)

Живописная 17-ти мильная дорога находится в 30-ти километрах от моста Биксби. По пути будет еще курортный городок Кармел-бай—Си, на который у нас к сожалению не было времени. За все наши 3500 километров которые мы проехали эта был единственный участок дороги за проезд по которому нужно было заплатить. Плата составляет всего 10,25$, но объясняется это тем, что это всё частная территория и сама дорога находится в стороне от основной трассы. Сюда стоит заехать, что бы увидеть потрясающие пейзажи и прогуляться по уютным пляжам Тихого океана.

К огромному сожалению времени до сдачи машины оставалось совсем немного и поэтому дальше нам пришлось ехать до Сан-Франциско без остановок и мы не заехали в городок Монтерей, хотя там есть где погулять и что посмотреть. В общем есть повод вернуться.


Во второй день пути в 17:45 мы сдали машину на станции проката. Это было не очень просто, так как на одной из развязок я проехал мимо нужного съезда, собрал все светофоры и казалось что уже точно не успеем приехать до закрытия. Обошлось.

Сан-Франциско посвящена отдельная статья, в которой можно знать много интересного о городе — Путешествие по Калифорнии. Сан-Франциско.

В Сан-Франциско мы решили сдать машину по нескольким причинам:

  • Без машины намного легче найти жильё. Жильё здесь в принципе самое дорогое из всех городов где мы были (включая восточную часть США). Найти жильё с паркингом можно, но существенно сужается круг выбора и увеличивается ценник.
  • Город сам по себе не очень большой и здесь нормально работает общественный транспорт (в отличии от Лос-Анджелеса). К тому же почти все парковки в центре города платные. Поэтому на автобусах и метро здесь перемещаться удобней чем на машине, да и дешевле.

Поэтому было решено, что лучше сдать машину и таким образом увеличить себе выбор арендного жилья и в тоже время сэкономить на аренде машины, которая всё равно просто стояла бы те четыре дня, на которые мы тут остановились.

Ссылка на весь маршрут второго дня поездки на гугл-картах.

Викторианские дома. Сан-Франциско

Encinitas: Laid Back and Low Key

Sandy beaches and azure waters for miles and miles—Encinitas.

Just as you’d expect in southern California, there’s no shortage of surf towns in these parts. Encinitas, however, is the only one that was recently named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best surf towns in the world.

This town is an eclectic mix of surf shops, record stores, and sidewalk cafes. It has long attracted surfers and hippies with its low-key, laid-back vibe. It’s certainly a must on your California road trip itinerary.

Don’t miss: Encinitas is known as “the flower capital of the world,” not just for the bright and beautiful flowering plants that grow wild throughout the town but also because of the San Diego Botanic Garden, which includes nearly 4,000 kinds of plants.

The Shortest National Park Road Trip – The One Must-See National Park

The incomparable Yosemite Valley. If you’re going to visit just one National Park this summer, this would have to be it. Photo: Craig Wolf

If you had to pick just one national park to road trip to this summer, it would have to be Yosemite.

The renowned park ranger, Carl Sharsmith was once famously asked what he would do if he only had one day in the park. His answer: he would sit by the Merced River and cry. That’s because he spent a lifetime exploring and discovering every nook and cranny of this magical place as a Yosemite National Park Ranger. So, in case you were wondering if there is enough to do, the answer is yes.

Yosemite has everything from epic spring-time waterfalls to towering granite icons like El Capitan of “Freesolo” movie fame. Don’t forget the ultimate Yosemite cliff, Half Dome. And that is just in Yosemite Valley.

Beyond that, the park holds wide-open lakes, serene alpine meadows, giant sequoia groves, and more. Enjoy browsing through the many Yosemite-specific tips and tricks to make the most of your visit.

Nothing says summer like a bit of fun at the Splash and Dash Aqua Park at Lake McSwain. Plan a stop!

In addition, you’re missing out if you don’t stop to explore the wide-open spaces outside the park as well. There are spectacular historic and cultural locations. You could spend three days alone following in the footsteps of the famous naturalist John Muir on his first visit to Yosemite.

  • Start that route in Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World.
  • Cross Pacheco Pass.
  • Take the back roads through welcoming small towns like Snelling, Coulterville, and Greeley Hill on your way into Yosemite filled with a wide array of lodging and dining options.

You can also break up your drive from the Bay Area with a stop at Lake McClure and Lake McSwain. These are beautiful places to camp, fish, and enjoy some of the area’s ‘off-the-beaten-path’ activities. Take a lap at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park – a 700-acre park with views of Lake McClure dedicated exclusively to mountain biking. Cool off at the Splash and Dash Aqua Park.

Yosemite is one of the most popular parks in California, and its popularity is growing. You’ll want to plan for your visit, so make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter to get the best and most current information as well.

Russian River and Bohemian Highway

The Bohemian Highway lets you do what comes naturally. Bark back at seals along the coast, gather good vibes in ancient redwood groves, float down the Russian River in an inner tube, and join Sonoma’s freethinkers for sunset toasts in organic vineyards.

Sonoma’s wild western side has been the place to let loose for over a century. Easy living along the Russian River was first fueled by hard cider, then bubbly wine. Heirloom apple orchards line rolling vineyards producing California’s finest cult pinot noir. Come as you are and do your thing – paddle canoes, wander winding country lanes and dream days away in redwood forests.

There are 50 wineries within a 20-minute drive of Guerneville. The Russian River AVA (American Viticulture Area) produces California’s cult-favorite pinot noir and chardonnay, thanks to nighttime coastal fog that swirls through the redwoods, then burns off midday in dramatic silvery haloes of mist.

The highest concentration of wineries is along Westside Rd, between Guerneville and Healdsburg. Go between June to September for toasty days and refreshing river dips.

You may like: Tips for planning a perfect trip to California wine country

A hiker walks a rocky trail to Lassen Peak in the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

California Coast Road Trip: Day 2

Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese Theater

Since this was my first time in LA I had to do the touristy things to do in Los Angeles and see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese Theater.

While the Hollywood Walk of Fame was underwhelming and kind of gross, I loved the outside of the Chinese Theater and the hand and footprints in the cement. It was fun searching for my favorite movie stars and see what they wrote. I even found my “Boyfriend” Donald Duck, which I didn’t know would be there.

While I wouldn’t go back again, it’s definitely something you should do if it’s your first time in LA. And it can be a quick stop if you have one day in Los Angeles.

I did go on a search for my favorite actor of all time from my favorite movie, Humphrey Bogart who starred in Casablanca. It is one of the best movies of all time.

The one thing I didn’t get to do, and wish I had was take a tour of the Chinese Theater. It is one of the most iconic theaters in the world and the next time I’m in the area I’ll be heading inside to check it out.

Starline Tours Celebrity Homes Tour and Madam Tassaud’s

Starline Tours isn’t something I would usually do while traveling, but when EJ lived in the area he would always take friends who visited on this tour. So I figured, since traveling is all about trying new things I did it.

I have mixed feelings about the tour because I felt super creepy looking at houses that belonged to other people.

On the flip-side it was interesting seeing how different each house was and all the stories that the driver knew about the area. If you’re into this kind of thing, you’ll love this tour. We drove through Bel Air, Rodeo Drive, and around Hollywood Boulevard.

Book a tour with Star Line Tours

You can also purchase the LA Sightseeing Pass that will give you access to this tour and over 25 other tours and attractions in and around LA.

I think what I enjoyed most about the Starline Tour is that it came with tickets to Madam Tussaud’s. Yup, I unapologetically love Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It’s always fun and you never knew what “celebrities” you’ll run into. haha? Yeah, it was a terrible joke.

Since my last visit to Madem Tussaud’s, which granted it was when I was in college in and NYC. They’ve really upped their game.

There were a bunch of interactive exhibits. There was an entire area focused on horror movies where visitors can take photos with a yellow raincoat with red balloon about you (IT), through a door with an ax (The Shining), and in front of a television with static and hand prints on it (Poltergeist).

Santa Monica Pier

After we finished up at Madam Tussaud’s EJ and I hopped in the car and headed over to the Santa Monica Pier.

I learned on this trip in the last day and a half that parking in Southern California is the worst. After looking near the Santa Monica Pier for a while we had to park in a garage.

The Santa Monica Pier was hopping! Here are a few things everyone needs to do at the Santa Monica Pier:

  • Ride the iconic Pacific Park Ferris Wheel
  • Go to Soda Jerks for ice cream
  • Watch the street performers (We saw some amazing break dancers.)
  • Take a photo next to the end of Route 66
  • Ride the Historic Carousel
  • Play Skeeball at the Arcade.
  • Check out the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
  • Dance the night away to live music at Rusty’s

Hearst Castle

In 1865, George Hearst, a miner, rancher and eventual US Senator, bought 40,000 acres of ranchland overlooking the Pacific Ocean in an area outside of San Simeon, California.

Over 50 years later, William Randolph Hearst, George’s son, acquired even more land in the area and also began to build a retreat he called the “Enchanted Hill.”

As a result, today, the Hearst Castle compound is an art museum and open to the public for tours and dining.

Don’t miss: First-time visitors should make sure to take the 60-minute Grand Rooms guided tour ($25 adults/ $12 children). Highlights of this tour include the Billiards Room, Gardens, and numerous pools. Yeah, being a Hearst must have been tough.

Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway

A straight shot north along California’s arched geological backbone, Hwy 395 dazzles with high-altitude vistas, crumbling Old West ghost towns and limitless recreational distractions.

The gateway to California’s largest expanse of wilderness, the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway borders towering mountain vistas, glistening blue lakes and the seemingly endless forests of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. A lifetime of outdoor activities beckons beyond the asphalt (parts of which get traffic clogged in summer), and unique geological formations and burbling natural hot springs await exploration.

Don’t miss Mammoth Lakes, Reds Meadow, Mono Lake, and Bodie State Historic Park along the way. Alabama Hills is a popular filming site you’ve surely seen on screen, while Manzanar National Historic Site is a sobering reminder of when the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community was forced into remote internment camps by the US government during World War II.

Tackle the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway between June to September for warm days and (mostly) snow-free mountain ramblings.

Route 66 motorbike riders. Sky Noir Photography by Bill Di

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