California Road Trip – Our Amazing Itinerary

Our 2019 USA Holiday is going to be A-MAZING, embarking on a California Road Trip in excess of 1,300 miles / 2,000 km’s.

We fly from London to LA before heading off on a 16 day Road Trip around California. Excluding a jaunt down to Venice Beach, Los Angeles is likely to be the furthest south we travel.

We head up as far as Lake Tahoe, a new destination for us before cruising over to Half Moon Bay, for the start of our Pacific Coast Highway trip.

We have decided to miss out on San Francisco, as we did all we wanted to do, back during our USA 2013 Road Trip.

USA Road Trip Day 1 – London to LA (then onto Castaic)  Click here for a full route map

Our first leg of the trip sees us fly from London Heathrow to Los Angelas Airport.

A flight in excess of 11 hours will see us leave London at around 10.30 and touch down in LA at about 3pm. We then pick up our car, and make the first trip to Castaic, where we will check in to our first Motel.

Total Driving Miles – 60
Tonights Hotel – Rodeway Inn, Magic Mountain

USA Road Trip Day 2 – LA to Sequoia National Park

Jetlag will surely play a factor in our start time today. We have a three-hour drive and we fully expect to be on the road by 7 am at the latest.

But that’s ok. It means we get to Sequoia relatively early and can enjoy the day seeing the big trees and other attractions.

Total Driving Miles – 165
Tonights Hotel – Wuksachi Lodge

California Road Trip

USA Road Trip Day 3 – Sequoia to Yosemite

We wake up with one of the longest drives of the trip ahead of us on our California Road Trip.

172 miles, and almost 3 hours. We will allow all day for this, and certainly will make the most of any time Max decides to nap. If we arrive at Yosemite with time to spare, then we can do a bit of sightseeing.

Suzanne and I saw this on our USA 2013 Road Trip, albeit briefly while circumventing the 2013 forest fire

Total Driving Miles – 172
Tonights Hotel – Yosemite View Lodge

USA Road Trip Day 4 – Yosemite to San Andreas

After Yosemite, our next real stop of note is at Lake Tahoe. However, this is over 4 hours away, so we are doing it in 2 days.

We will head towards San Andreas but are like to stop a little bit south of there. Probably around Sonora or Jamestown.

Total Driving Miles – 73
Tonights Hotel – Travelodge, Angels Camp

USA Road Trip Day 5 – San Andreas to Lake Tahoe

We leave the San Andreas area, heading North East to South Lake Tahoe. If the pictures are anything to go by, this looks like a lovely setting to spend to a couple of nights in.

So we are. We have two nights here, before heading West for our Pacific Coast Highway adventure.

Total Driving Miles – 133
Tonights Hotel – The Beach Retreat & Lodge

California Road Trip

USA Road Trip Day 6 – Full Day at Lake Tahoe

Our first ‘rest’ of this Californian Road Trip. We would have so far covered at least 600 miles. This seems to be a nice place to stop, and relax for a 2 night stopover.

We are staying at the Beach Retreat & Lodge. Lake Tahoe is probably the best part of 200 miles from the nearest beach. But, if you look at the photos of the hotel, it certainly looks like it is right on a beach.

Total Driving Miles – 0
Tonights Hotel – The Beach Retreat & Lodge

California Road Trip
Lake Tahoe – Stock Photo – Not one of mine

USA Road Trip Day 7 – Lake Tahoe to Napa

Now, we are back on the road with a vengeance. We went to San Francisco back in 2013 without a rug rat in tow, so we decided that we could skip it this time. We do only have two and a half weeks after all! One thing we did miss in 2013 was visiting a winery. Odd to do that with a 4-year-old, but who knows when we will be flying passed Napa again.

The intention then is to hit the Pacific Coast Highway just south of San Francisco. Too far to do in one day, so we are going to stop somewhere in Napa. We could have aimed for South of SF, but going north kills two birds. One, we get to do Napa, if only for a few hours. Two, we get to head south and enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge again. Win win!!

Total Driving Miles – 162
Tonights Hotel – Wine Valley Lodge

California Road Trip – One Week In

So we are a week into our California Road Trip. We started in LA, headed north to Sequoia, then Yosemite. A short 2-night stopover in South Lake Tahoe before heading West to south of San Francisco via Napa.

We are now looking forward to heading south, down the Pacific Coast Highway and ultimately back to LA. Let’s continue….

USA Road Trip Day 8 – Napa to Half Moon Bay

As we enter the second week of our California Road Trip, we turn back, heading South. The Pacific Coast Highway awaits, and we also have the opportunity to see the Golden Gate Bridge again.

A drive of a little over 90 minutes should give us plenty of time to stop off and see the Bridge in all its glory.

Last time we visited in 2013, it was shrouded in fog. A sight to see for sure, but we hope this time to be able to see it in clear weather.

Total Driving Miles – 77
Tonights Hotel – Quality Inn, Half Moon Bay

USA Road Trip Day 9 – Half Moon Bay to Monterey

The PCH awaits as we continue south. En-route to Monterey, we have earmarked a couple of stops. Año Nuevo State Park and the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz.

We will probably look to spend lunch at the Boardwalk, breaking up the journey. Then, a nice drive around Monterey Bay to our hotel in downtown.

Total Driving Miles – 91
Tonights Hotel – Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

USA Road Trip Day 10 – Monterey to Big Sur

A small trip today on our California Road Trip, a mere 32 miles, but with very good reason.

The stretch between Monterey and San Simeon see’s a plethora of jaw dropping, must see sights. But, there isn’t a great deal of places to stop at in between the two.

We tracked down the Big Sur Lodge, and while a little over our budget, paying the extra will certainly mean we can break the drive up, and see lots of things.

On today’s agenda will be: Fishermans Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Carmel by the Sea, Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, Bixby Creek Bridge, Point Sur Lighthouse

Total Driving Miles – 32
Tonights Hotel – Big Sur Lodge

California Road Trip

USA Road Trip Day 11 – Big Sur to San Simeon

Our crazy sightseeing two days continue. These days are going to remind me of one particular day during our Canada Road Trip. We made ourselves see 15 different things all in one day.

Andrew Molera State Park, Pfieffer Beach, Cafe Kevah, Partington Cove Trail, McWay Falls, Jade Cove, Ragged Point, Elephant Seal viewing point…and maybe a winery when arriving at San Simeon.

9 things. We managed 15 in Canada. This should be a breeze!!

Total Driving Miles – 64
Tonights Hotel – San Simeon Lodge

California Road Trip

USA Road Trip Day 12 – San Simeon to Santa Maria

Hearst Castle, Moonstone beach and, much to Suzanne’s disgust, Bubblegum Alley will fill our day today. It is only a 60 min drive down to Pismo Beach but we are in no hurry to get going.

We plan on having a relaxing morning and seeing plenty of Hearst Castle and the surrounding area.

We will probably spend a bit of time around Pismo Beach. There is the historic 1,200-foot-long Pismo Beach Pier. Reading up on the VisitCalifornia website, it seems like a nice place to spend a couple of hours, so we probably will!

Total Driving Miles – 73
Tonights Hotel – Santa Maria Inn

USA Road Trip Day 13 – Santa Maria to Santa Monica

Long Drive today, as we are heading from Santa Maria all the way to Santa Monica.

A 3 hour, 160-mile drive means much of the time will be spent in the car. But, the bonus, Santa Monica tonight!!!

Santa Monica is probably one of my favourite places in the world. And I can’t wait to go back. It is about 85 miles, and I think we will want to get there pretty early. This will really be the end of our California Road Trip as there is not much driving after this.

We may stopover for a snack or something in Malibu, but fun things await.

Cycle rides down to Venice Beach, a look around the town, the pier, the beach, there is just so much to do. We only have three nights, so two full days.

Let’s make the most of them. Particularly as we may be spending one of them at a theme park!!

Total Driving Miles – 160
Tonights Hotel – DoubleTree Hilton, Santa Monica

USA Road Trip Day 14 – Hell-A Universal Studios

Today was an early start and a lengthy drive to Universal Studios

Rides, Queues and cash. The extent of our day I believe.

Total Driving Miles – 50
Tonights Hotel – Double Tree Suites, Hilton

USA Road Trip Day 15 and 16 – Two full days in Santa Monica

So we have a couple of days in Santa Monica. We have a 4-year-old, so I think we will be spending a day at a theme park, maybe Universal Studios.

The other day will just be soaking up the cool Santa Monica atmosphere. We will cycle down to Venice. There are a few photos I want to get that I didn’t really get when we were there during our 2013 Road Trip

Total Driving Miles – 50
Tonights Hotel – Double Tree Suites, Hilton

California Road Trip
The Pier from afar

USA Road Trip Day 17 – Fly to Manhattan

Up bright and early today, we have an 8am flight to catch! Bad news, our California Road Trip is over. But good news…We’re heading to the Big Apple!!

Once there, we are staying a stones throw from Time Square, so we are really looking forward to being right in the thick of it all.

We have done New York City lots of times, and before with Max, but we always love going back.

2 of my favourite places in the world, with my 2 favourite people in the world!!

Santa Monica and New York. Suzanne and Max.


Total Driving Miles – not a lot, but a lot flying!
Tonights Hotel – The Westin, Times Square

USA Road Trip Day 18 – Full Day in Manhattan

Hop on hop off bus, Times Square, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park. The tourist spots are endless, but I would also like to check out a couple of other places we haven’t been to before.

Such as Greenwich Village, The High Line and DUMBO, (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge bypass)

Total Driving Walking Miles – LOTS!!
Tonights Hotel – The Westin, Times Square

USA Road Trip Day 19 to Day 24 – Wind Downtime on Long Island

Today, we pick up another car, and head out to Long Island to visit family, and stay a few nights with them.

No driving around like crazy people, no real schedule, no 5am starts for an 8am flight. Just relaxing, and unwinding after what will surely have been a crazy 3 weeks to this point!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the above, and what we plan to get up to.

We are going to be blogging about this California Road Trip and our Manhattan stay as we go, is if you want to keep up with our adventures, then sign up to the blog, or check us out on Twitter and Instagram, @snapsandstories.

If you’ve been to any of the above places and can suggest some great stop-offs that we haven’t mentioned, then we are open to suggestions!

Stay tuned for more Snaps & Stories!

Rich, Suzanne and Max

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