15 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California travel planner
Make it your trip
— 1 night
Santa Barbara
— 2 nights
Death Valley National Park
— 1 night
San Diego
— 6 nights
Palm Springs
— 3 nights


Carmel — 1 night

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 28th (Tue): take in the views from Bixby Bridge. On the next day, admire the majestic nature at Point Lobos, enjoy the sand and surf at Carmel River State Beach, and then learn about winemaking at Blair Estate Tasting Room.

For other places to visit, where to stay, reviews, and more tourist information, read our Carmel route planner.

Chicago to Carmel is an approximately 6.5-hour flight. You can also drive; or do a combination of train and bus. You'll gain 2 hours traveling from Chicago to Carmel due to the time zone difference. Traveling from Chicago in February, things will get much hotter in Carmel: highs are around 63°F and lows about 45°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 1st (Wed) so you can drive to Santa Barbara.
Parks · Beaches · Nature · Outdoors
Side Trip

Santa Barbara — 2 nights

The American Riviera

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.
Start off your visit on the 2nd (Thu): explore the fascinating underground world of Salt Cave, don't miss a visit to Old Mission Santa Barbara, wander the streets of State Street Underpass, then learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Santa Barbara Zoo, and finally do a tasting at Summerland Winery. Keep things going the next day: don't miss a visit to Santa Barbara County Courthouse and then awaken your taste buds at some of the top wineries in the area.

For more things to do, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, read Santa Barbara trip planning tool.

You can drive from Carmel to Santa Barbara in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. In March, daily temperatures in Santa Barbara can reach 69°F, while at night they dip to 48°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri) early enough to catch the flight to Death Valley National Park.
Wineries · Tours · Historic Sites · Parks
Side Trip

Death Valley National Park — 1 night

Hottest, Driest, Lowest

Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
Start off your visit on the 4th (Sat): explore the stunning scenery at Twenty Mule Team Canyon, take in the dramatic natural features at Zabriskie Point, get engrossed in the history at The Ranch at Furnace Creek, then explore the striking landscape at Devil's Golf Course, then contemplate the waterfront views at Badwater Basin, and finally take a memorable drive along Artist's Drive.

For ratings, maps, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our Death Valley National Park trip itinerary planner.

Drive from Santa Barbara to Death Valley National Park in 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus; or do a combination of train and bus. Traveling from Santa Barbara in March, expect a bit cooler with lows of 43°F in Death Valley National Park. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 4th (Sat) early enough to travel to San Diego.
Parks · Nature · Scenic Drive · Museums

San Diego — 6 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.
Visit Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and Mormon Battalion Historic Site for their historical value. You'll discover tucked-away gems like La Jolla Shores Park and Point Loma. Venture out of the city with trips to South Carlsbad State Beach (in Carlsbad), The Graves House (in Oceanside) and Old Town Temecula (in Temecula). Next up on the itinerary: pause for some photo ops at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, snap pictures at Coronado Bridge, walk around Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, and get to know the fascinating history of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

To see other places to visit, more things to do, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our San Diego trip itinerary builder site.

You can drive from Death Valley National Park to San Diego in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of car and flight. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from Death Valley National Park in March since evenings lows in San Diego dip to 56°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 10th (Fri) so you can go by car to Palm Springs.
Parks · Historic Sites · Outdoors · Beaches
Side Trips

Palm Springs — 3 nights

Explore hidden gems such as Indian Canyons and The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Go for a jaunt from Palm Springs to Palm Desert to see Desert Holocaust Memorial about 30 minutes away.

To see reviews, other places to visit, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our Palm Springs holiday planning tool.

Traveling by car from San Diego to Palm Springs takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of train and bus. Expect somewhat warmer weather when traveling from San Diego in March: highs in Palm Springs hover around 84°F, while lows dip to 58°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 13th (Mon) so you can catch the flight back home.
Tours · Museums · Parks · Outdoors
Side Trip

California travel guide

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.