21 days in California Itinerary

21 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California travel route planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
San Francisco
— 2 nights
Drive
2
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
Drive
3
Death Valley National Park
— 2 nights
Drive
4
San Simeon
— 1 night
Drive
5
Carmel
— 4 nights
Drive
6
Calistoga
— 3 nights
Drive to Sacramento International Airport, Fly to Hamid Karzai International Airport

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San Francisco

— 2 nights

City by the Bay

San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Head to Ferry Building Marketplace and Union Squarefor plenty of shopping. You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Eden Fine Art and Twin Peaks. The adventure continues: step off the mainland to explore Alcatraz Island, don't miss a visit to Ghirardelli Square, snap pictures at Golden Gate Bridge, and stop by SoMa.

For more things to do, maps, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read San Francisco route planning tool.

Kabul, Afghanistan to San Francisco is an approximately 27-hour flight. The time zone difference when traveling from Kabul to San Francisco is minus 12.5 hours. In December in San Francisco, expect temperatures between 17°C during the day and 8°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 4th (Wed) early enough to travel to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in San Francisco

Shopping · Neighborhoods · Historic Sites · Parks

Yosemite National Park

— 3 nights
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.
Take a break from the city and head to Glacier Point and Yosemite, Tunnel View. Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Yosemite Museum Gallery and Bodie State Historic Park. Step out of Yosemite National Park to go to Lee Vining and see Mono Lake County Park, which is approximately 50 minutes away. Spend the 7th (Sat) exploring nature at Elizabeth Lake. There's more to do: explore the striking landscape at Sentinel Dome.

To find other places to visit, traveler tips, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Yosemite National Park trip maker tool.

You can drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park in 4 hours. While traveling from San Francisco, expect slightly colder days and cooler nights in Yosemite National Park, ranging from highs of 9°C to lows of -11°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 7th (Sat) early enough to travel to Death Valley National Park.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks · Nature · Trails · Outdoors

Side Trips

Death Valley National Park

— 2 nights

Hottest, Driest, Lowest

Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
Explore hidden gems such as Artists Dr and Artists Palette. Step out of the city life by going to Zabriskie Point and Badwater Basin. And it doesn't end there: take some stellar pictures from Dante's View, discover the riches below the earth's surface at Eureka Mine, take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Panamint Range, and take in the dramatic natural features at The Devil's Speedway.

For ratings, more things to do, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Death Valley National Park visit planning tool.

Drive from Yosemite National Park to Death Valley National Park in 4.5 hours. Traveling from Yosemite National Park in December, things will get somewhat warmer in Death Valley National Park: highs are around 15°C and lows about 0°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Tue) so you can drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Scenic Drive

San Simeon

— 1 night
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 11th (Wed): explore the historical opulence of Hearst Castle, identify plant and animal life at Friends of the Elephant Seal Visitor Center and Gift Shop, and then visit a coastal fixture at Piedras Blancas Light Station. On your second day here, get a taste of the local shopping with Cambria Nursery and Florist, shop like a local with Ephraim Pottery West Gallery, then take in the exciting artwork at Artifacts Gallery, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Moonstone Beach, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of The Old Santa Rosa Creek Chapel.

To find where to stay and tourist information, refer to the San Simeon trip planner.

You can drive from Death Valley National Park to San Simeon in 6.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and flight; or do a combination of car, bus, and train. When traveling from Death Valley National Park in December, plan for somewhat warmer days in San Simeon, with highs around 20°C, while nights are about the same with lows around 0°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Thu) to allow time to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Parks · Historic Sites · Outdoors · Beaches

Side Trip

Carmel

— 4 nights
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. Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Coast Gallery Big Sur and Ocean Avenue. Head to Steven Whyte's Sculpture Studio and Gallery and The Pilgrim's Way Community Bookstore and Secret Gardenfor plenty of shopping. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Carmel: Big Sur (Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park & Pfeiffer State Beach). There's still lots to do: admire the majestic nature at Point Lobos, stroll through Carmel River State Beach, get up close to creatures of the deep with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and contemplate the waterfront views at Monterey Bay.

For reviews, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Carmel route planner.

Drive from San Simeon to Carmel in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi, train, and bus. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from San Simeon in December since evenings lows in Carmel dip to 7°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) early enough to go by car to Calistoga.

Things to do in Carmel

Outdoors · Parks · Nature · Tours

Side Trips

Calistoga

— 3 nights
Indulgence is the name of the game in Calistoga.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Castello di Amorosa and Ramini Mozzarella. Museum-lovers will appreciate Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley and Ca' Toga Galleria D' Arte. Venture out of the city with trips to Moshin Vineyards (in Healdsburg), Sebastopol Center for the Arts (in Sebastopol) and Armstrong Redwood State Reserve (in Guerneville). There's still lots to do: view the masterpieces at Imagery Estate Winery & Art Gallery, do a tasting at Huge Bear at The Bank Tasting Room, get a taste of the local shopping with Valley of the Moon Pottery & North Eagle Gallery, and identify plant and animal life at Safari West.

To see where to stay, photos, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Calistoga trip planner.

You can drive from Carmel to Calistoga in 3.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of shuttle and flight; or do a combination of bus, train, and taxi. Traveling from Carmel in December, expect slightly colder with lows of 2°C in Calistoga. Finish your sightseeing early on the 19th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Calistoga

Shopping · Parks · Wineries · Wildlife

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.