21 days in California Itinerary

21 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California trip itinerary planner

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Route & dates

21 days in California Itinerary

Start: Chicago
Fly:  6​h 15​min
1
San Francisco
— 4 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
2
Carmel
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h
3
San Simeon
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 45​min
4
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
— 4 nights
bus:  6​h 45​min
5
Yosemite National Park
— 6 nights
Drive + Fly:  9​h
End: Chicago

4
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 Armstrong Redwood State Reserve and Fishing Charters & Tours. Your inner history buff will appreciate Golden Gate Bridge and Grace Cathedral. Step out of San Francisco to go to Mill Valley and see Muir Woods National Monument, which is approximately 48 minutes away. There's lots more to do: step off the mainland to explore Alcatraz Island, admire the natural beauty at Japanese Tea Garden, see the interesting displays at SS Jeremiah O'Brien, and take in the waterfront at Fisherman's Wharf.

For photos, more things to do, ratings, and more tourist information, you can read our San Francisco online trip itinerary builder .

Chicago to San Francisco is an approximately 6.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and train; or drive. The time zone difference when traveling from Chicago to San Francisco is minus 2 hours. Traveling from Chicago in July, things will get slightly colder in San Francisco: highs are around 73°F and lows about 57°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Fri) early enough to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Francisco

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trips

Muir Woods National Monument, Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
Highlights from your plan
Muir Woods National Monument ©
Muir Woods National Monument
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve ©
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island

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. You'll get in some beach time at Pfeiffer State Beach and Carmel River State Beach. Get outdoors at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Monterey Bay. Take a break from Carmel with a short trip to McWay Falls in Big Sur, about 56 minutes away. There's still lots to do: make a trip to Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard, stroll around Dennis the Menace Park, immerse yourself in nature at Point Lobos, and take in the views from Bixby Bridge.

Ask Inspirock to suggest an itinerary and make planning a trip to Carmel fast, fun, and easy.

Traveling by car from San Francisco to Carmel takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 69°F in July, and nighttime lows around 55°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Mon) so you can drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Carmel

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Big Sur, Monterey, Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard
Highlights from your plan
Pfeiffer State Beach ©
Pfeiffer State Beach
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach

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.
Kick off your visit on the 30th (Tue): visit a coastal fixture at Piedras Blancas Light Station, then look for all kinds of wild species at Elephant Seal Rookery, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Piedras Blancas. Here are some ideas for day two: step into the grandiose world of Hearst Castle, explore and take pictures at Moonstone Beach Dr, and then stroll through Moonstone Beach.

For where to stay, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, you can read our San Simeon trip itinerary builder .

You can drive from Carmel to San Simeon in 3 hours. Another option is to do a combination of bus and car. When traveling from Carmel in July, plan for much warmer days and about the same nights in San Simeon: temperatures range from 94°F by day to 56°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Wed) so you can drive to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Things to do in San Simeon

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Cambria
Highlights from your plan
Piedras Blancas ©
Piedras Blancas
Moonstone Beach ©
Moonstone Beach
Hearst Castle ©
Hearst Castle

4
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 outdoors at General Grant Tree Trail and Congress Trail. Discover out-of-the-way places like Kings Canyon National Park and Moro Rock. There's still lots to do: steep yourself in history at General Sherman Tree, take in the dramatic scenery at Grizzly Falls, trek along North Grove Loop Trail, and explore and take pictures at Generals Hwy.

To find ratings, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park route website .

Drive from San Simeon to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car. Traveling from San Simeon in July, you can expect nighttime temperatures to be somewhat warmer in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, with lows of 66°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 4th (Sun) early enough to catcht the bus to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Parks Outdoors Trails
Highlights from your plan
Moro Rock ©
Moro Rock
Kings Canyon National Park ©
Kings Canyon National Park
General Grant Tree Trail ©
General Grant Tree Trail

6
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.
Visiting Taft Point and Tioga Pass will get you outdoors. Discover out-of-the-way places like Panorama Trail and Sentinel Dome. Spend the 7th (Wed) exploring nature at Bridalveil Fall. There's still lots to do: trek along Tuolumne Meadows, take in the dramatic natural features at Glacier Point, take in the dramatic scenery at Vernal Fall, and tour the pleasant surroundings at Four Mile Trail.

For photos, more things to do, and more tourist information, refer to the Yosemite National Park driving holiday planner .

Traveling by bus from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to Yosemite National Park takes 7 hours. When traveling from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in August, plan for little chillier days and colder nights in Yosemite National Park: temperatures range from 81°F by day to 43°F at night. On the 11th (Sun), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Outdoors Nature
Highlights from your plan
El Capitan ©
El Capitan
Bridalveil Fall ©
Bridalveil Fall
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point

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