12 days in California Itinerary

12 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California sightseeing planner

Make it your trip
+2
Fly to Tijuana, Bus to San Ysidro/Intl Border, Tram to San Diego
1
San Diego
— 3 nights
Fly
2
South Lake Tahoe
— 1 night
Drive
3
Napa
— 3 nights
Drive
4
San Francisco
— 4 nights
Fly

S M T W T F S
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San Diego

— 3 nights

America's Finest City

Divided into neighborhoods with distinct characters and cultural heritages, San Diego sits just north of the Mexican border and offers visitors a blend of tourist attractions, including a lively nightlife, diverse cuisine, and a thriving musical scene.
Step out of the city life by going to Lions, Tigers & Bears and Point Loma. There's lots more to do: test your problem-solving skills at popular escape rooms, enjoy the sand and surf at La Jolla Shores Park, see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and immerse yourself in nature at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

For maps, where to stay, and tourist information, read San Diego road trip website.

Mexico City, Mexico to San Diego is an approximately 7-hour combination of flight, bus, and tram. You can also fly; or drive. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time to Pacific Standard Time, which is usually a -2 hour difference. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from Mexico City in January since evenings lows in San Diego dip to 12°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 4th (Sat) so you can fly to South Lake Tahoe.

Things to do in San Diego

Parks · Outdoors · Wildlife · Nature

Side Trip

South Lake Tahoe

— 1 night
High in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the shore of one of America’s most scenic lakes, South Lake Tahoe captures the spirit of the outdoors and serves as a hub for tourism activities surrounding the lake.
Kick off your visit on the 5th (Sun): tour the pleasant surroundings at Rock House Discount Ski & Snowboard Rentals, explore the historical opulence of Vikingsholm, and then contemplate the waterfront views at Emerald Bay State Park.

For photos, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, read South Lake Tahoe trip planning website.

Getting from San Diego to South Lake Tahoe by flight takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. Expect colder temperatures when traveling from San Diego in January; daily highs in South Lake Tahoe reach 8°C and lows reach -8°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 5th (Sun) early enough to drive to Napa.

Things to do in South Lake Tahoe

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Winter Sports

Side Trip

Napa

— 3 nights

America's Wine Country

Located just 80 km (50 mi) north of San Francisco, Napa sits at the southern end of the scenic Napa Valley, one of the world's major wine regions.
Give yourself a bit of retail therapy at Ramini Mozzarella and Lisa Kristine Gallery Sonoma. You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Cosumnes River Preserve and VJB Cellars. Get out of town with these interesting Napa side-trips: Contra Loma Regional Park (in Antioch), Santa Rosa (Valley of the Moon Pottery & North Eagle Gallery & Safari West) and Armstrong Redwood State Reserve (in Guerneville). It doesn't end there: walk around Oxbow Preserve and do a tasting at V. Sattui Winery.

To find more things to do, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, read Napa day trip planning site.

You can drive from South Lake Tahoe to Napa in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of bus and train. Traveling from South Lake Tahoe in January, things will get somewhat warmer in Napa: highs are around 17°C and lows about 3°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 8th (Wed) to allow time to drive to San Francisco.

Things to do in Napa

Parks · Wildlife · Shopping · Nature

Side Trips

San Francisco

— 4 nights

City by the Bay

San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Visiting West Cliff Drive and Muir Woods National Monument will get you outdoors. And it doesn't end there: get the lay of the land with Walking tours, explore the activities along San Francisco Bay, tour the pleasant surroundings at Lands End, and walk around Presidio of San Francisco.

To find reviews, where to stay, maps, and other tourist information, read our San Francisco journey website.

Drive from Napa to San Francisco in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and subway; or take a bus. Traveling from Napa in January, plan for a bit warmer nights in San Francisco, with lows around 9°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 12th (Sun) to allow time for the flight back home.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Tours

Side Trips

California travel guide

4.1
Specialty Museums · Wineries & Vineyards · Beaches
The Golden State
The country's most populous state, California includes landscapes that range from the forested northern coast to harsh southern deserts. Sandwiched right in the middle of the state is a fertile valley, home to farms, vineyards, and orchards. California's cities offer diverse attractions, from amusement parks and upscale shops to award-winning restaurants and innovative art galleries. Outside the state's big urban centers, places to visit include some of the nation's most rugged national parks, ancient forests, towering mountain peaks, and ski resorts. More than just a surfing destination famous for its beaches and winding coastal roads, California also boasts one of the world's largest economies, bolstered by the booming tech industries.

Lake Tahoe (California) travel guide

4.3
Zipline · Ski Areas · State Parks
Lake of the Sky
Straddling the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe draws visitors from both states and beyond to its shores. With an average of 300 sunny days annually, it's no surprise that the lake is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. The blue-green waters beckon travelers for swimming, boating, windsurfing, or kayaking. The lake also has a number of walking trails for those who don't want to get wet. In the colder months, skiers take to the surrounding mountains. The south shore is the most developed side of the lake, with more things to do, while the west and north shores are generally more tranquil.

Napa Valley travel guide

4.3
Wineries & Vineyards · Wine Tours & Tastings · Castles
Thanks to a Mediterranean climate and idyllic location in Northern California, Napa Valley is one of the top wine producing regions in the world. This, coupled with the area's breathtaking scenery, abundance of quaint B&Bs, and exquisite local gastronomy, makes Napa Valley one of the country's most popular spots for peaceful weekends and romantic getaways. While wine tasting and vineyard tours are the traditional things to do, the region offers a variety of other attractions, including hot air balloon rides, spa treatments, and trips aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.