12 days in California Itinerary

12 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California sightseeing planner

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Route & dates

12 days in California Itinerary

Start: Boston
Fly:  7​h 15​min
1
San Francisco
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
2
Calistoga
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h 45​min
3
San Simeon
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
4
Carmel
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 45​min
5
Yosemite National Park
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  11​h
End: Boston

2
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Escape the urban bustle at Alcatraz Island and Twin Peaks. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Fisherman's Wharf and SS Jeremiah O'Brien. Take a break from San Francisco with a short trip to Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, about 46 minutes away. There's still lots to do: take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, engage your brain at Exploratorium, shop like a local with City Lights Booksellers, and get to know the fascinating history of Filbert Steps.

To see ratings, photos, reviews, and more tourist information, read San Francisco trip builder website .

Boston to San Francisco is an approximately 7.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and train; or drive. You'll gain 3 hours traveling from Boston to San Francisco due to the time zone difference. In September, daily temperatures in San Francisco can reach 76°F, while at night they dip to 58°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Fri) early enough to drive to Calistoga.

Things to do in San Francisco

Historic Sites Nature Shopping

Side Trip

Muir Woods National Monument
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Muir Woods National Monument ©
Muir Woods National Monument

2
nights
Calistoga

Calistoga ©
Indulgence is the name of the game in Calistoga.
On the 7th (Sat), learn about winemaking at Huge Bear at The Bank Tasting Room, do a tasting at Gracianna Winery, then enjoy the sand and surf at Bodega Dunes, and finally step into the grandiose world of Castello di Amorosa. On the 8th (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: learn about winemaking at V. Sattui Winery, do a tasting at Pride Mountain Vineyards, then kick back and relax at Goat Rock Beach, and finally immerse yourself in nature at Armstrong Redwood State Reserve.

For more things to do, where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, read Calistoga itinerary website .

Traveling by car from San Francisco to Calistoga takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a train. When traveling from San Francisco in September, plan for somewhat warmer days and little chillier nights in Calistoga: temperatures range from 84°F by day to 51°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Sun) so you can drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Calistoga

Parks Wineries Outdoors

Side Trips

St. Helena, Armstrong Redwood State Reserve, Gracianna Winery, Goat Rock Beach, Bodega Dunes
Highlights from your plan
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve ©
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
Bodega Dunes ©
Bodega Dunes
Gracianna Winery ©
Gracianna Winery

1
night
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.
Kick off your visit on the 9th (Mon): steep yourself in history at Hearst Castle, then cruise along Moonstone Beach Dr, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Moonstone Beach. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: enjoy the sea views from Piedras Blancas Light Station, then kick back and relax at Piedras Blancas, and then look for all kinds of wild species at Elephant Seal Rookery.

To see reviews, where to stay, ratings, and tourist information, read our San Simeon day trip planning app .

You can drive from Calistoga to San Simeon in 6 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus, subway, and flight; or do a combination of bus, subway, flight, and car. Traveling from Calistoga in September, expect nights in San Simeon to be about the same, around 53°F, while days are a bit warmer, around 90°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trip

Cambria
Highlights from your plan
Hearst Castle ©
Hearst Castle
Elephant Seal Rookery ©
Elephant Seal Rookery
Piedras Blancas ©
Piedras Blancas

2
nights
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. On the 11th (Wed), stroll through Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge, then stroll through Carmel River State Beach, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Point Lobos. On the next day, see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour.

To find photos, traveler tips, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Carmel journey site .

Getting from San Simeon to Carmel by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from San Simeon in September, expect nights in Carmel to be about the same, around 56°F, while days are slightly colder, around 72°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Thu) so you can drive to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Carmel

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge, Dolphin & Whale Watching
Highlights from your plan
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Dolphin & Whale Watching

2
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.
On the 13th (Fri), get great views at Tunnel View, take in the views from Pohono Bridge, then explore the striking landscape at Taft Point, and finally take in the dramatic natural features at Glacier Point. Here are some ideas for day two: take in the dramatic scenery at Yosemite Falls, hike along Tuolumne Meadows, and then make a trip to Olmsted Point.

For maps, photos, ratings, and other tourist information, read Yosemite National Park vacation planner .

You can drive from Carmel to Yosemite National Park in 5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of flight and car; or do a combination of shuttle, flight, and car. Expect slightly colder evenings in Yosemite National Park when traveling from Carmel in September, with lows around 38°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Sat) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Yosemite, Tunnel View ©
Yosemite, Tunnel View
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Yosemite Falls ©
Yosemite Falls

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