12 days in California Itinerary

12 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in California Itinerary

Start: Dayton
taxi + Fly:  7​h 45​min
1
Los Angeles
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h 15​min
2
Death Valley National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  6​h 15​min
3
San Simeon
— 1 day
Drive:  3​h
4
Carmel
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 15​min
5
San Francisco
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h
6
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
+2
Drive + Fly + taxi:  8​h
End: Dayton

1
night
Los Angeles

Los Angeles ©
Surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, valleys, beaches, and deserts, the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is home to over 17 million people.
On the 26th (Sat), take a leisurely stroll along Santa Monica Pier and then see the interesting displays at The Getty Center. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 27th (Sun): make an unforgettable trip to Disneyland Park.

To see where to stay, more things to do, maps, and more tourist information, use the Los Angeles trip app .

Dayton to Los Angeles is an approximately 8-hour combination of taxi and flight. You can also do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. You'll gain 3 hours traveling from Dayton to Los Angeles due to the time zone difference. In December, Los Angeles is much warmer than Dayton - with highs of 69°F and lows of 49°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Death Valley National Park.

Things to do in Los Angeles

Theme Parks Museums Historic Sites

Side Trips

Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland Park
Highlights from your plan
Disneyland Park ©
Disneyland Park
The Getty Center ©
The Getty Center
Santa Monica Pier ©
Santa Monica Pier

2
nights
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park ©
Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
Kick off your visit on the 28th (Mon): take in the dramatic natural features at Zabriskie Point, then get great views at Dante's View, and then make a trip to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Here are some ideas for day two: explore the activities along Badwater Basin, take a memorable drive along Artists Dr, and then go deep underground at Eureka Mine.

To see ratings, more things to do, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Death Valley National Park trip planner .

Traveling by car from Los Angeles to Death Valley National Park takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train, bus, and car; or do a combination of flight and bus. Plan for little chillier temperatures traveling from Los Angeles in December, with highs in Death Valley National Park at 56°F and lows at 33°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Badwater Basin ©
Badwater Basin
Dante's View ©
Dante's View
Zabriskie Point ©
Zabriskie Point

1
day
San Simeon

San Simeon ©
When you arriveĀ 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.
On the 30th (Wed), step into the grandiose world of Hearst Castle, then identify plant and animal life at Elephant Seal Rookery, and then visit a coastal fixture at Piedras Blancas Light Station.

For photos, traveler tips, reviews, and other tourist information, go to the San Simeon tour itinerary planner.

Drive from Death Valley National Park to San Simeon in 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car, bus, and train; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Expect somewhat warmer weather when traveling from Death Valley National Park in December: highs in San Simeon hover around 63°F, while lows dip to 33°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Wed) so you can drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Historic Sites Wildlife Parks

Side Trip

Piedras Blancas Light Station
Highlights from your plan
Hearst Castle ©
Hearst Castle
Piedras Blancas Light Station ©
Piedras Blancas Light Station

1
night
Carmel

Carmel ©
Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply called 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 31st (Thu): immerse yourself in nature at Point Lobos, explore the activities along Monterey Bay, then look for gifts at Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar, and finally don't miss a visit to Fairy Tale Cottages of Hugh Comstock.

For maps, reviews, photos, and more tourist information, go to the Carmel trip itinerary maker tool .

Traveling by car from San Simeon to Carmel takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from San Simeon in December, plan for somewhat warmer nights in Carmel, with lows around 43°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 31st (Thu) early enough to go by car to San Francisco.

Things to do in Carmel

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Monterey
Highlights from your plan
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Monterey Bay ©
Monterey Bay
Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar ©
Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar

3
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
San Francisco is known for nature, museums, nightlife, shopping, and childrens museums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, get curious at Exploratorium, browse the different shops at Ferry Building Marketplace, and hunt for treasures at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

To find photos, where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our San Francisco day trip planning website .

Traveling by car from Carmel to San Francisco takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. December in San Francisco sees daily highs of 59°F and lows of 45°F at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Sun) to allow time to drive to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks Shopping Museums
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate Park ©
Golden Gate Park

3
nights
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.
Start off your visit on the 4th (Mon): take in the dramatic natural features at El Capitan, then take some stellar pictures from Tunnel View, then take in the views from Pohono Bridge, and finally explore the striking landscape at Glacier Point. Here are some ideas for day two: fly down the slopes at Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.

To find reviews, photos, and tourist information, use the Yosemite National Park trip planner .

Traveling by car from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and car; or do a combination of flight and bus. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from San Francisco in January: highs in Yosemite National Park hover around 44°F, while lows dip to 13°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 6th (Wed) to allow time for travel back home.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Outdoors Winter Sports
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Tunnel View ©
Tunnel View
El Capitan ©
El Capitan

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