A couple months ago, we made a big dream come true: we made a road trip through California! This trip was on our minds for many, many years and just like that, we decided that is NOW or never. I mean, why not? Life is just too short, right? It turned out to be the most amazing trip of our lives. We saw so many different places, met great people and had an amazing time on the West Coast. California is such a special place, not only because of the great cities, the beautiful beaches or the unique nature- we also fell in love with the typical Cali-Lifestyle and the friendly people there!
In case you’re planning a road trip through California (and you definitely should!), I prepared a big guide for you with our exact route, tips regarding car rental, Airbnb’s, Hotels & Co.! In my next article about our road trip, I will tell you how we saved money during our trip!
Los Angeles (8 days)
We started our road trip in Los Angeles, where we stayed for 8 days. I think that’s just the perfect timing for L.A.: You have a few days to explore the city, a few days to relax at the beach and another few days to check out places that are located outside the city. Our Airbnb apartment was located in Venice Beach, 3 minutes away from the beach- so nice!
When you’re landing in LAX, there are a few buses waiting in front of the entrance. These buses will bring you to the car rental stations. We decided to rent our car at Alamo and were totally happy. Here is why: the service is great, we didn’t have to wait so long, we had a problem with our credit card and they allowed us to pay the rest at the end of our trip, we made a really good deal and only paid 1000$ for a Ford Mustang Cabrio for 21 days. We met many Mustang-drives during our trip (chliché) and most of them paid double of the price at other car rentals.
Where to go – Favorite Places
- Malibu & El Matador Beach
- West Hollywood
- Griffith Observatory
- Beverly Hills / Sunset Blvd
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- Abbot Kinney Venice
My favorite Veggie Restaurants in L.A.
Los Angeles is a paradise for all foodies who love healthy, vegan and vegetarian food. I listed you all my favorite veggie Restaurants in my L.A. Food Guide!
Airbnb- the best locations
The first question you should ask yourself before booking your Airbnb is ,,what is important to me?”. If your main goal is to see a lot of the city, I recommend to stay in West Hollywood. If you rather want to stay near the beach, Venice and Santa Monica are the best locations. We loved Venice so much! The vibe is very easy, cool and hip!
Day-Trips from Los Angeles
There are a lot of cool places around Los Angeles. If you have the time, I definitely recommend to you to make a day trip to Newport Beach and especially Laguna Beach. I loved it there so much and even if it’s only an hour away from L.A., the atmosphere is pretty different. Laguna Beach has so many amazing beaches. These are my favorite:
- Thousand Steps Beach
- Thalia Beach
- Montage Beach
First Stop: Palms Springs (2 days)
We spontaneously decided to go to Palms Springs for a few days. I’m super happy that we were so flexible because this stop was definitely one of my favorites on our California road trip. Palms Springs felt like a movie to me. I have never seen such a beautiful landscape. You have palms and mountains on the one side and endless desert on the other. Super fascinating! This was something completely new to me and I am so happy to have experienced this breathtaking spot on earth. The drive there was super easy and took us just two and a half hours from LA. We were super lucky and got a mega hotel deal through the Hotel Tonight App. We booked two nights at the Hotel Avalon for just 80 Dollars – I just love to make deals like that! The App really helps a lot when you are spontaneously in need of a place to stay. Check it out!
- Joshua Tree Park ( a 45-minute drive; you should stay the whole day and enjoy the incredible sunset at this place)
- Palms Springs Architecture – Either you book a tour or go explore it by yourself
- Palms Springs Botanical Garden
Second Stop: Santa Barbara (1,5 days)
From Palm Springs we went to Santa Barbara. The drive there is super nice with its scenic outlooks and just takes about three and a half hours. Santa Barbara really is a nice little city, with beautiful vineyards, the cute old part of the town and a super nice beach. Just a perfect combination of all.
A super nice lunch place! The restaurant is completely vegan and offers combinations to die for! We had a Jackfruit Portobello Burger and for dessert, the chef surprised us with an incredibly delicious Baklava. The waiters are super friendly, the food is outstanding and the atmosphere super relaxing and cozy. Definitely a must-eat for all foodies and veggie lovers!
Third Stop: Monterey & Big Sur (3 days)
From Santa Barbara our trip took us to Monterey with a quick stop at Morro Bay – all the way down the Pacific Coast Highway! We rented a simple but nice room through Airbnb, which was cheap (60 Dollars a night) and was located perfectly. We explored the area for about three days and found some marvellous places:
- 17 Mile Drive: A beautiful drive with more than 21 must-see spots. The coastal line is simply breathtaking! My personal highlight were the seals – soooo cute! I had never seen so many on one spot – it is simply fun to watch them playing around and enjoying life to the fullest!.
- Carmel by the Sea: This is the endpoint of the 17-Mile-Drive where you have the chance to explore this beautiful, small village with its real romantic and scenic places, cafés, restaura, ts and boutiques.
- Big Sur: This really was one of my personal highlights of the whole trip – Big Sur! What a gorgeous, scenic drive! We went from Monterey to the famous McWay Falls and stopped a few times along the way. This really was an amazing day and will not be forgotten! A must-go!!
Food Tipp Monterey: Happy Girl Kitchen
Super cute restaurant, which is run by locals. Everything is organic and made with a lot of love! The avocado bread is simply delicious, as are the Snickerdoodles and the Matcha Latte – yummy!!
Fourth Stopp: Santa Cruz (3 days)
From Monterey we went on to Santa Cruz. Unfortunately it rained three days straight when we got there. So, to be very honest, we did not like our stay there. At all. Well, it might have been because of the rain. There is literally nothing to do if you have bad weather conditions. If we wouldn’t had booked our next stop already, we would have left right away. But well, I guess on a road trip like that you gotta make some bad experiences as well, so you appreciate the good ones even more!
Fifth Stop: Yosemite Nationalpark (3 days)
The absolute highlight of the trip – the Yosemite National Park! This place really takes your breath away – it is so beautiful that I am lacking words to describe it! Even though I always prefer the beach and the ocean, those mountains are just incredible! That’s why I wrote a special Yosemite Guide, where you can find tips on accommodations, routes and much more! A few of our impressions you will see in the video we published!
Last Stop: San Francisco (3 days)
Our road trip ended in San Francisco where we stayed for three days. Actually, our Airbnb was in San Carlos, a 30 minute drive from the city. The simple reason why not stay in the city e the ridiculously high prices of accommodations there. San Carlos is a small town right outside of San Francisco. You can find super nice cafés, restaurants and the people are super friendly. We loved it there! Two of those days we drove into the city to explore it. We went up and down the hills, took a ride with the famous train and went to see the Golden Gate Bridge. But to be very honest here, we were so overwhelmed with all those impressions from the previous weeks, that we had a hard time to really take the city in. So we didn’t go hardcore sightseeing nor explored all those amazing cultural spots in San Francisco, but instead we wandered around and relaxed. To get to the city a bit better, I would come back anytime for sure!
One thing is for sure, a road trip through California is something that you won’t forget. There is so much to see, do, taste and explore, that no matter what kind of adventure you are seeking for, you can find it here! I will never forget those three fantastic weeks and I am more than sure, that this was not my last road trip through California!