3 of the Best Cross-State California Road Trips

Ready for an adventure of your life? Check out these 3 cross-state California road trips.

Last updated: December 7, 2021

3 of the Best Cross-State California Road Trips - Roads and Destinations, roadsanddestinations.com

Explore California via these 3 Cross-State Road Trips

California is one of the most beautiful and diverse states in the USA. From abundant beaches and never-ending deserts in the South to northern ice-capped mountains and pristine lakes, the place never ceases to astound you.

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, however, 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 the self-driving tours, I find it impossible to disagree. But while you can talk endlessly about the routes and drives, here are 3 of the best cross-state California road trips to start you off.

3 of the Best Cross-State California Road Trips - Roads and Destinations, roadsanddestinations.com
California Road Trips: Bir Sur

3 OF THE BEST CROSS-STATE CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIPS

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 Pacific Coast Highway is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Starting in San Diego and going all the way 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.

Occasional waterfalls intervene with rugged coastline from time to time, adding extra charm to one of the most beautiful cross-state California road trips.

Highlights

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 the majority of the California roadtrippers. Thus, you may want to skip some of these places and stop only at those that are of particular interest to you.

With that said, while 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 the Big Sur area, McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, and the Bixby Creek Bridge are the places you can’t miss.

Our Epic Three-Day California Road Trip. Day 1 - Roads and Destinations, roadsanddestinations.com
California Road Trips: Mammoth Lakes when snow lingers in the mountains

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 on along U.S. Route 395 North later on. Yet, if excruciating heat of Death Valley National Park doesn’t allure you, skip it along with the drive on U.S. 101 North.

In this case, adhere only to 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.

Highlights

Among all places that the 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.

Blooming Almond Orchards in California - Roads and Destinations
California Road Trips: Fresno. The route is especially beautiful when almond trees bloom.

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 a 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.

Highlights

The following places along State Route 99 will enhance your road trip experiences when crossing California from Los Angeles to Sacramento.

Los Angeles – Sacramento: Bakersfield, Delano, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Chowchilla, Merced, Turlock, Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, Elk Grove.


If you want to know more about the road trips in California, check out the following guides:

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