California is one of the most beautiful and diverse sates in the US. From abundant beaches and never-ending deserts in the South to northern ice-capped mountains and pristine lakes, California has it all. Swimming in the ocean in the morning and skiing in the mountains a few hours later is not an unusual thing to do in the Golden State. Add to this list visits to charming California cities, and you have some thrilling adventures on your hands. Some people insists that only cross-state California road trips give you a full grasp of all the treasures of the Golden State. With flexibility and spontaneity of self-driving tours, I find it impossible to disagree. But while you can talk endlessly about routes and drives, here are three of the best cross-state California road trips to start off.
THREE OF THE BEST CROSS-STATE CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIPS:
The California Coast Road Trip from San Diego to Eureka
The California Coastline is the first place that comes to your mind when talking about the best cross-state California road trips. In fact, the popular route along the Pacific Coast Highway is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. Starting in San Diego and going to Eureka, this road trip encompasses some of the most prominent areas of California. Moreover, the route provides the best way to experience California like a local. We are talking about innumerable beaches that spread for hundreds of miles. Additionally, occasional waterfalls intervene with rugged coastline adding extra charm to one of the most beautiful cross-state California road trips.
Dozens of remarkable places dot the California Coast road trip. You will need at least a few weeks to explore all of them. Sadly, this option doesn’t work for all California road trippers. However, you can skip some of these places and stop only at those ones that are of particular interest to you. So, once crossing California from San Diego to Eureka, make sure to add the following destinations to your itinerary.
San Diego – Eureka: Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, San Simeon, Big Sur, Carmel-By-The-See, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Santa Rosa
When road-tripping through Big Sur, McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach and Bixby Creek Bridge are the places you can’t miss.
Eastern California Road Trip from Los Angeles to Lassen Volcano
You can rightfully call the cross-country California road trip from Los Angeles to Lassen Volcano a national park drive. Three out of nine California national parks are located along this route. Moreover, the Eastern California road trip includes iconic lakes, mountains and national monuments with some of the best hikes in the state. To explore all these natural wonders of California, start your road trip via U.S. Route 101 North and continue it through U.S. Route 395 North. However, if excruciating heat of Death Valley National Park doesn’t allure you, skip it along with U.S. 101 North. Instead adhere to only U.S. Route 395 North. Even without Death Valley National Park, this route features many places that will steal your heart. No wonder it’s one of the most diverse cross-state California road trips.
Among all places that Eastern California road trip has to offer, be ready to pull over at the following destinations.
Los Angeles – Lassen Volcano: Death Valley National Park, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Cross-State California Road Trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento
One of the least popular cross-state California road trips, a drive from Los Angeles to Sacramento is wrongfully viewed as the route for truckers. While covering this distance via Interstate 5 can indeed save you time, Highway 99 is what you should aim for. Running parallel to I-5, State Route 99 offers many California cities and towns to explore along the way. Take time to walk the streets of these places, get to know their lifestyles and dine at local eateries.
The following places along State Route 99 will enhance your road trip experience when crossing California from Los Angeles to Sacramento.
Los Angeles – Sacramento: Bakersfield, Delano, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Chowchilla, Merced, Turlock, Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, Elk Grove.