12 days in California Itinerary

12 days in California Itinerary

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12 days in California Itinerary

San Francisco
Drive:  3​h 30​min
Mendocino
— 2 nights
Drive:  7​h 15​min
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
Drive:  5​h 15​min
Carmel
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
San Simeon
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
Santa Barbara
— 2 nights
Fly:  4​h 15​min
San Francisco

2
days
Mendocino

Mendocino
Mendocino is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County, California, United States. Start off your visit on the 21st (Thu): visit a coastal fixture at Point Cabrillo Light Station and then shop like a local with Glass Fire Art Glass Gallery. Here are some ideas for day two: explore the world behind art at Mendocino Art Center, steep yourself in history at Kelley House Museum, contemplate the long history of Ford House Visitor Center & Museum, then shop like a local with Highlight Gallery, and finally stop by Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books.

To see ratings, reviews, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Mendocino online trip itinerary builder

San Francisco to Mendocino is an approximately 3.5-hour car ride. You can also do a combination of bus and taxi; or do a combination of flight and bus. Expect slightly colder evenings in Mendocino when traveling from San Francisco in December, with lows around 37°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Sat) so you can drive to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Mendocino

Historic Sites Museums Shopping

Side Trip

Glass Fire Art Glass Gallery
Highlights from your plan
Point Cabrillo Light Station ©
Point Cabrillo Light Station
Highlight Gallery ©
Highlight Gallery

3
days
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park ©
Massive granite mountains, towering waterfalls, groves of Giant Sequoia trees, and wilderness as far as the eye can see distinguish the landscape of Yosemite National Park.
Explore hidden gems such as Bodie State Historic Park and Tenaya Lake. Get outdoors at El Capitan and Tunnel View. It doesn't end there: see a world frozen in time at Bodie and explore the striking landscape at Glacier Point.

To find photos, other places to visit, and tourist information, read our Yosemite National Park trip itinerary maker app

Traveling by car from Mendocino to Yosemite National Park takes 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi, bus, and train; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Traveling from Mendocino in December, you will find days in Yosemite National Park are slightly colder (44°F), and nights are much colder (14°F). Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 26th (Tue) to allow time for the car ride to Carmel.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trips

Bodie, Bodie State Historic Park
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Tenaya Lake ©
Tenaya Lake
Bodie State Historic Park ©
Bodie State Historic Park

2
days
Carmel

Carmel ©
Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply referred to as Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916. Kick off your visit on the 27th (Wed): stroll through Carmel City Beach/Carmel River Beach, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Point Lobos State Reserve, and then look for gifts at The Cheese Shop. On the 28th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: make a trip to San Carlos Cathedral, contemplate the waterfront views at Monterey Bay, and then take in the exciting artwork at Weston Gallery.

To see other places to visit, reviews, where to stay, and tourist information, go to the Carmel trip app

You can drive from Yosemite National Park to Carmel in 5.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of taxi and bus. While traveling from Yosemite National Park, expect a bit warmer days and much warmer nights in Carmel, ranging from highs of 60°F to lows of 43°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Carmel

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trip

Monterey
Highlights from your plan
Point Lobos State Reserve ©
Point Lobos State Reserve
Carmel City Beach/Carmel River Beach ©
San Carlos Cathedral ©
San Carlos Cathedral

2
days
San Simeon

San Simeon ©
When you arrive in tiny San Simeon, which lies halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you can see why William Randolph Hearst chose this coastal locale for his famous hilltop castle.
Start off your visit on the 29th (Fri): identify plant and animal life at Elephant Seal Rookery, then stroll through Moonstone Beach, and then look for gifts at Brown Butter Cookie Co. On the 30th (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: look for gifts at Shell Shop Inc, then take in the dramatic natural features at Morro Rock, and then do a tasting at Moonstone Cellars.

To find other places to visit, maps, photos, and other tourist information, read our San Simeon online journey planner

Getting from Carmel to San Simeon by car takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: take a bus. Traveling from Carmel in December, San Simeon is somewhat warmer at night with lows of 50°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 30th (Sat) early enough to go by car to Santa Barbara.

Things to do in San Simeon

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Cambria, Morro Bay, Brown Butter Cookie Co
Highlights from your plan
Moonstone Beach ©
Moonstone Beach
Morro Rock ©
Morro Rock
Shell Shop Inc
Shell Shop Inc

2
days
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara ©
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is a solid vacation destination with its wide beaches, renowned wineries, and some of California's finest shopping and dining options.
On the 31st (Sun), hunt for treasures at Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market, wander the streets of State Street, then contemplate the long history of Old Mission Santa Barbara, and finally do a tasting at Grassini Family Vineyards. On the 1st (Mon), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: stop by Chocolate Maya, do a tasting at Jaffurs Wine Cellars, stop by The Good Life, then look for gifts at Global Gardens, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at Labyrinth at St. Mark's-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church.

To find maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Santa Barbara day trip site

Traveling by car from San Simeon to Santa Barbara takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and train; or take a bus. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from San Simeon in December: highs in Santa Barbara hover around 64°F, while lows dip to 41°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 1st (Mon) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Shopping Historic Sites Outdoors

Side Trips

Los Olivos, The Good Life
Highlights from your plan
Global Gardens ©
Global Gardens
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Old Mission Santa Barbara

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