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California Trips: Inspiration for California Exploration
Ideas and Inspiration For Trips to California
Any trip to California will require tough choices: what to see, and what to skip. The state is simply too expansive and varied to experience everything all at once.
To help make those choices easier, here are some suggested itineraries for a California vacation. Pick your theme, and choose your own adventure. Will it be ocean, mountain or desert?
For some of the best mountain views in California, head to the Sierra Nevada, the mountains that line California's eastern border.
The Spanish name means, literally, the snow-covered range of saw-toothed peaks. Worthwhile destinations in the Sierra Nevada include:
- Mt. Whitney: Try climbing the highest peak in the continental United States, or watch others try. Then take in the stark scenery on a road trip up I-395.
- Lake Tahoe: Too touristy for some, Lake Tahoe offers skiing and many amenities along with the mountain scenery.
- Yosemite National Park: This park deserves its reputation as one of the can't-miss sites in the United States. Try exploring the area beyond the park's eastern edge, including Mono Lake.
- Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park: More off the beaten path than Yosemite, these adjacent parks offer giant trees and impressive vistas. Bring hiking shoes, as most of the terrain is beyond the reach of cars.
Big Sur and California Highway 1
Travel the California coast between Carmel and San Simeon, and you're sure to remember every twist and turn in the road. It's one of the ultimate road trips in the state. Your route will follow California's Highway 1, a narrow highway wedged into the sides of steep coastal mountains. Every turn, cliff and vista point leads straight down to the Pacific Ocean.
Passing through Big Sur, you'll cross over stunning bridges and stop to explore rocky beaches, redwood groves and waterfalls.
- Visit the California coast in the winter (the rainy season) and the hillsides will be a deep, bright green. Visit in the summer and the same landscape will be a toasted mix of yellow and brown.
More about Big Sur
- Big Sur: Driving the California Coast
In Big Sur, towering mountains drop away to meet the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. It's some of California's most dramatic scenery.
Travel to one of the lowest, hottest spots on earth. In the far southeastern corner of California, Badwater Basin is an otherworldly place with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level.
- Visit Death Valley National Park in the spring to catch the wildflowers.
More About Death Valley
- Death Valley Flowers: Spring Wildflowers in a Desolate Land
Death Valley National Park is a striking place, a place with extremes in topography and temperature. And some years, if the conditions are just right, the park erupts with a wild show of wildflowers.
Crank It Up: Playlists For California Vacations
- California Freeway Melody: 10 Songs For A California Road Trip
In California, life takes gasoline. Find proof in these 10 songs celebrating California's car culture.
- 10 Songs About Southern California
These 10 songs about places in Southern California journey across the region from San Diego to San Simeon.
- 10 Songs About Northern California
Few cities in Northern California get sung about the way Los Angeles does. Here's celebrating 10 Northern cities that have made their way into song.
- California Calling: 10 Songs About Moving to California
Thinking of leaving home for California? These 10 songs will get you packed up and moving to the Golden State. California's calling.
- Songs of California: 100 Songs About California
100 songs about California: The ultimate California playlist.
- 15 Classic Songs About California
15 Classic Songs About California: A list of the best California songs from the 1960s and 1970s.
And If The Trip's No Good ...
- California Dystopia: 10 Songs About California and Broken Dreams
Some California dreams are broken, and not everything in the state is golden. These 10 songs about California detail the state's flaws and letdowns.