18 days in California Itinerary

18 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in California Itinerary

Start: Washington DC
Fly + bus:  11​h 30​min
1
Death Valley National Park
— 2 nights
Drive + bus:  8​h
2
Yosemite National Park
— 2 nights
bus:  6​h 45​min
3
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 45​min
4
San Simeon
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h
5
Carmel
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
6
San Francisco
— 4 nights
Fly:  7​h
End: Washington DC

2
nights
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park ©
Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
On the 10th (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: explore the striking landscape at Zabriskie Point, then steep yourself in history at Eureka Mine, and then explore the activities along Badwater Basin.

To find where to stay, other places to visit, reviews, and other tourist information, use the Death Valley National Park holiday planning website .

Washington DC to Death Valley National Park is an approximately 11.5-hour combination of train, flight, and bus. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. The time zone difference when traveling from Washington DC to Death Valley National Park is minus 3 hours. When traveling from Washington DC in August, plan for a bit warmer days and about the same nights in Death Valley National Park: temperatures range from 98°F by day to 70°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 11th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Parks Nature Scenic Drive
Highlights from your plan
Zabriskie Point ©
Zabriskie Point
Artists Palette ©
Artists Palette
Badwater Basin ©
Badwater Basin

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.
Step out of the city life by going to Panorama Trail and Yosemite Falls. You'll discover tucked-away gems like Vernal Fall and Bodie State Historic Park. There's still lots to do: stroll around Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, get great views at Tunnel View, make a trip to Olmsted Point, and explore the wealth of natural beauty at Swinging Bridge Picnic Area Yosemite National Park CA.

To see ratings, where to stay, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Yosemite National Park trip planner.

Drive from Death Valley National Park to Yosemite National Park in 8 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from Death Valley National Park in August, expect nights in Yosemite National Park to be colder, around 43°F, while days are little chillier, around 81°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Wed) to allow enough time to take a bus to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Nature Trails

Side Trip

Bodie State Historic Park
Highlights from your plan
Yosemite Falls ©
Yosemite Falls
Bodie State Historic Park ©
Bodie State Historic Park
Mariposa Grove ©
Mariposa Grove

2
nights
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park ©
With mountain peaks reaching past 4,250 m (14,000 ft) and trees stretching to over 75 m (250 ft) high, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks present nature on a grand scale.
Get in touch with nature at Moro Rock and Giant Forest. Discover out-of-the-way places like Kings Canyon National Park and Grizzly Falls. Step out of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to go to Independence and see Manzanar National Historic Site, which is approximately 48 minutes away. Next up on the itinerary: stroll through Zumwalt Meadow Trail and take a memorable drive along Generals Hwy.

To see ratings, other places to visit, traveler tips, and more tourist information, you can read our Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park trip planner.

You can take a bus from Yosemite National Park to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in 7 hours. In August, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is a bit warmer than Yosemite National Park - with highs of 95°F and lows of 63°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 17th (Sat) early enough to go by car to San Simeon.

Things to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trip

Manzanar National Historic Site
Highlights from your plan
Giant Forest ©
Giant Forest
Moro Rock ©
Moro Rock
Kings Canyon National Park ©
Kings Canyon National Park

2
nights
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.
On the 18th (Sun), kick back and relax at Piedras Blancas, identify plant and animal life at Elephant Seal Rookery, and then visit a coastal fixture at Piedras Blancas Light Station. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 19th (Mon): explore the historical opulence of Hearst Castle, then cruise along Moonstone Beach Dr, and then kick back and relax at Moonstone Beach.

To see more things to do, maps, photos, and tourist information, you can read our San Simeon online trip itinerary planner .

Traveling by car from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to San Simeon takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in August, San Simeon is slightly colder at night with lows of 55°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Mon) to allow time to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Parks Outdoors Wildlife

Side Trip

Cambria
Highlights from your plan
Piedras Blancas ©
Piedras Blancas
Moonstone Beach ©
Moonstone Beach
Friends of the Elephant Seal ©
Friends of the Elephant Seal

3
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. Family-friendly places like Carmel River State Beach and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park will thrill your kids. Visit Point Lobos and Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge for some beach relaxation. Change things up with a short trip to McWay Falls in Big Sur (about 1 hour away). Spend the 21st (Wed) observing fascinating marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour. It doesn't end there: contemplate the waterfront views at Monterey Bay.

For more things to do, maps, where to stay, and more tourist information, read Carmel trip itinerary planning app .

Drive from San Simeon to Carmel in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. While traveling from San Simeon, expect much colder days and about the same nights in Carmel, ranging from highs of 70°F to lows of 57°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Thu) so you can drive to San Francisco.

Things to do in Carmel

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trips

Big Sur, Monterey, Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge
Highlights from your plan
Monterey Bay ©
Monterey Bay
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach

4
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Deepen your sense of the past at sights like Alcatraz Island and Filbert Steps. You'll explore and learn at Exploratorium and Cable Car Museum. Get out of town with these interesting San Francisco side-trips: Bodega Dunes (in Bodega), Muir Woods National Monument (in Mill Valley) and Castello di Amorosa (in Calistoga). There's still lots to do: take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, steep yourself in history at SS Jeremiah O'Brien, take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Twin Peaks, and take in the pleasant sights at Fisherman's Wharf.

To see other places to visit, maps, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our San Francisco trip itinerary maker site .

You can drive from Carmel to San Francisco in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. In August, plan for daily highs up to 73°F, and evening lows to 59°F. On the 26th (Mon), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks Historic Sites Museums

Side Trips

Bodega Dunes, Castello di Amorosa, Muir Woods National Monument
Highlights from your plan
Muir Woods National Monument ©
Muir Woods National Monument
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge

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