Our California Road Trip Bucket List

California here we come….

Where do I even begin? A California road trip has been my dream ever since I watched my very first episode of The O.C back in the early 00’s and got a glimpse of the West Coast. Then came shows like The Hills and Big Little Lies which only added fuel to the fire but I’m now ready to experience the true beauty for myself.

So the details; Adam and I will be heading to California at the end of August for an eleven day roadtrip which starts and ends in San Francisco and incorporates the pacific coast highway, Los Angeles and Yosemite. We’ll be hiring a car and hopefully sharing the driving between us although I’ve never driven outside of the UK so that’s the first thing to get ticked off the bucket list I guess!

I thought I’d share an (extremely) rough outline of the plans for our trip so far although most of my time up until this point has been taking up searching for reasonably priced accomodation which let me tell you is almost near impossible in California! More than anything, this post is a bit of a cheeky excuse to ask all of you lovely readers if you have any recommendations for things to see, places to visit and where to eat so we can get our itinery looking a little more filled out!

San Francisco

Our trip will be kicking off with three nights in San Francisco where we will be planning to tick off all of the usual tourist spots as well as doing some serious mooching.

I already know that one of the biggest highlights for me is going to be the Alcatraz tour which we’ve now booked, we went for the evening tour after recieving lots of recommendations and I honestly can’t wait. I’m a sucker for true crime documentaries and podcasts so I can’t wait to experience this iconic landmark for myself. We’ll probably tie this in with checking out Pier 39 and hopefully hiring bikes so we can cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.

Our second day will likely consist of ticking off the remaining must-see spots such as the Painted Ladies, Lombard Street and of course riding a cable car! I also want to dedicate a some time to simply wandering around the more ecelectic areas such as Haight-Ashbury.

I’ve already started to collate a list of places to eat (most based on Instagram recommendations) and now my only worry is how we’re going to cram them all into just two full days!

Big Sur

After experiencing the hustle and bustle of San Francisco we’ll be picking up a car (yet to be determinded, it’s currently a toss up between a very practical 4×4 or living the Mustang life) and setting off down the coast.

This is the section of the trip which is very much still in the planning stages and needs to be firmed up so any tips or recommendations would be welcomed with open arms!

We’re planning to stop for two nights on our trip down the coast but the exact locations are yet to be determined. At the moment it’s looking like it’s going to be Monterey/Carmel and Santa Barbara. Through my research so far I’ve found these coastal towns to be pretty pricey when it comes to accomodation which is what is making our decision so difficult but I think one or two blow-out nights are okay, we are on holiday after all…

We will of course be stopping off numerous times whilst we’re on this portion of the roadtrip so I just hope Adam is prepared for how many times I’ll be asking him to pull over…

Then it will be onwards to Los Angeles, of course stopping off for a well-timed brunch break at the rather dreamy Malibu Farm Cafe on the way!

Los Angeles

We’ll be spending three nights in LA and after much deliberation we’ve chosen to base ourselves in Santa Monica as I’ve heard so many amazing things about the area and think it will be much more ‘our vibe’. We also managed to bag ourselves the cutest boho-inspired Airbnb which sealed the deal quite nicely!

We’re planning to spend one day doing the typical ‘Hollywood’ attractions such as the Walk of Fame, Warner Bros Studio Tour and visiting the Griffith Observatory so we can act out all of our La La Land fantasies and for our other full day we’ll be sticking closer to home and exploring the Santa Monica and Venice Beach areas, hopefully just eating and mooching our way around. I’m especially looking forward to exploring  Abbot Kinney which looks right up my street, literally…

I’m also desperate to sneak in a little trip to Newport/Laguna Beach whilst we’re in LA as it’s where this whole California love affair began so it feels wrong not to pay a visit as we’ll be so close!

Sequoia and Yosemite National Park

Then it will be time for a change of scenery with my first ever visit to a National Park. We’re hoping to base ourselves around Sequoia for one night so we can check out the famous General Sherman and Tunnel trees before heading on to Yosemite Valley for two days of hiking fuelled fun.

I FINALLY got around to booking our accommodation last week as it’s felt like an absolute mine field trying to pick somewhere affordable yet comfortable to come back to after a long day of walking. In the end I’m SO pleased with where we’ve chosen and honestly can’t wait to see what it’s like (apologies about the secrecy but security and all that).

In terms of hiking we definitely want to do the Mist trail, Four Mile Trail and of course check out Mirror Lake. I’m conscious about cramming too much as I have no idea how tired we’ll be after a full days walking in the heat although I am tempted to book a table at the Majestic Dining Room for dinner one evening as I’ve heard lots of good things.

Finally, from Yosemite we will be completing our round trip and heading back to San Francisco airport but let’s not think about that part yet as there are so many exciting adventures to come!

If you too are heading on a California road trip then I highly recommended checking out the following blog posts which have basically become like a bible for me over these past few months.

A Two Week Itinerary For The Pacific Coast – Sophie Cliff

The California Road Trip Guide – The Anna Edit

California Road Trip – Lucy Williams

Have you ever visited California? Did you do a road trip? What are some of your top tips?

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Our California road trip bucket list

Image Credit: Alex Perry on Unsplash


Author: Jessica

I’m Jess, a twenty-six year old self diagnosed Instagram and brunch addict. Whilst browsing Jess Who expect to find a hint of relatable personal style, Pinterest-worthy interiors, drool-worthy food and all of the latest happenings in Nottingham!