23 days in California Itinerary

23 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

23 days in California Itinerary

Start: San Diego
1
San Diego
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h 30​min
2
Death Valley National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  6​h 15​min
3
San Simeon
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
4
Carmel
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
5
San Francisco
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
6
Fort Bragg
— 3 nights
+4
Bus + Train + Bus + Fly + Drive:  7​h
7
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
+2
Bus + Foot + Bus:  3​h 30​min
8
South Lake Tahoe
— 3 nights
Bus + Fly:  4​h 45​min
End: San Diego

2
nights
San Diego

San Diego ©
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.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like La Jolla Shores Park and Moonlight Beach. Your itinerary includes some good beach time at La Jolla Cove and Children's Pool. Step out of San Diego with an excursion to Carlsbad State Beach in Carlsbad--about 34 minutes away. There's still lots to do: admire nature's wide array of creatures at San Diego Zoo.

For photos, reviews, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our San Diego journey builder app .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from your home destination to San Diego. August in San Diego sees daily highs of 78°F and lows of 68°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Death Valley National Park.

Things to do in San Diego

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trips

South Carlsbad State Beach, Moonlight State Beach
Highlights from your plan
La Jolla Cove ©
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Shores Park ©
La Jolla Shores Park
South Carlsbad State Beach ©
South Carlsbad State Beach

1
night
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park ©
Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
On the 27th (Mon), contemplate the waterfront views at Badwater, then explore and take pictures at Artists Dr, and then steep yourself in history at Eureka Mine. On your second day here, take in the dramatic natural features at Zabriskie Point and then take some stellar pictures from Dante's View.

For photos, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our Death Valley National Park trip itinerary builder app .

Drive from San Diego to Death Valley National Park in 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight, bus, and taxi; or do a combination of flight, bus, and car. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from San Diego in August: highs in Death Valley National Park hover around 98°F, while lows dip to 70°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Parks Nature Scenic Drive
Highlights from your plan
Zabriskie Point ©
Zabriskie Point
Dante's View ©
Dante's View
Badwater Basin ©
Badwater Basin

1
night
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 29th (Wed), kick back and relax at Piedras Blancas, then stop by Sebastian General Store, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Moonstone Beach. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 30th (Thu): explore the historical opulence of Hearst Castle, then look for all kinds of wild species at Elephant Seal Rookery, and then visit a coastal fixture at Piedras Blancas Light Station.

For photos, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the San Simeon trip planner .

Traveling by car from Death Valley National Park to San Simeon takes 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car, bus, and train; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Plan for a bit cooler nights when traveling from Death Valley National Park in August since evenings lows in San Simeon dip to 55°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Thu) so you can drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Cambria
Highlights from your plan
Moonstone Beach ©
Moonstone Beach
Piedras Blancas ©
Piedras Blancas
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. Visit Point Lobos State Reserve and Pfeiffer State Beach for some beach relaxation. You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Carmel City Beach/Carmel River Beach and Del Mar Beach. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Carmel: Big Sur (McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, & more). There's much more to do: enjoy the sand and surf at Carmel River State Beach, stop by Trio Carmel, and learn about winemaking at Dawn's Dream Winery.

For where to stay and tourist information, use the Carmel trip planner.

Traveling by car from San Simeon to Carmel takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from San Simeon in August, you will find days in Carmel are colder (70°F), and nights are about the same (57°F). Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Sun) early enough to drive to San Francisco.

Things to do in Carmel

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trip

Big Sur
Highlights from your plan
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach
Pfeiffer State Beach ©
Pfeiffer State Beach

3
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Bodega Dunes and Bodega Head. Next up on the itinerary: explore the wealth of natural beauty at Alcatraz Island, take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, engage your brain at Exploratorium, and take a leisurely stroll along Fisherman's Wharf.

To find other places to visit, reviews, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the San Francisco trip planning site .

Traveling by car from Carmel to San Francisco takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. In September in San Francisco, expect temperatures between 76°F during the day and 58°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Fort Bragg.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trips

Bodega Dunes, Bodega Head
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Bodega Dunes ©
Bodega Dunes
Bodega Head ©
Bodega Head

3
nights
Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg ©
Fort Bragg is a coastal city along State Route 1 in Mendocino County, California. Discover out-of-the-way places like Pudding Creek Beach and Glass Beach. Relax by the water at Seaside Beach and Van Damme State Park. Step out of Fort Bragg with an excursion to Black Sands Beach in Shelter Cove--about 1h 15 min away. There's lots more to do: take in nature's colorful creations at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, savor the flavors at Roundman's Smoke House, admire the majestic nature at Russian Gulch State Park, and stop by Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books.

To find photos, maps, and tourist information, use the Fort Bragg attractions site .

Drive from San Francisco to Fort Bragg in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of flight and bus. When traveling from San Francisco in September, plan for a bit warmer days in Fort Bragg, with highs around 88°F, while nights are slightly colder with lows around 52°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Sat) so you can drive to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Fort Bragg

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trips

Mendocino, Black Sands Beach
Highlights from your plan
Pudding Creek Beach ©
Pudding Creek Beach
Black Sands Beach ©
Black Sands Beach
Glass Beach ©
Glass Beach

3
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 off the beaten path and head to Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls. There's still lots to do: get great views at Tunnel View, explore the striking landscape at Taft Point, stroll through Panorama Trail, and take in the dramatic scenery at Vernal Fall.

To see more things to do, ratings, where to stay, and other tourist information, read Yosemite National Park online journey planner .

You can drive from Fort Bragg to Yosemite National Park in 7 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus, flight, and taxi; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Plan for little chillier temperatures traveling from Fort Bragg in September, with highs in Yosemite National Park at 74°F and lows at 38°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Wed) to allow time to travel to South Lake Tahoe.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Sentinel Dome ©
Sentinel Dome
Tioga Pass ©
Tioga Pass

3
nights
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe ©
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.
You'll get in some beach time at El Dorado Beach and Baldwin Beach. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Meeks Bay Beach and Emerald Bay State Park. Next up on the itinerary: enjoy the sand and surf at Lakeside Beach, look for gifts at Grass Roots Natural Foods, hike along Rubicon Trail, and stroll through Pope Beach.

For other places to visit, maps, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our South Lake Tahoe trip planning website .

You can do a combination of bus and taxi from Yosemite National Park to South Lake Tahoe in 3.5 hours. Expect a daytime high around 73°F in September, and nighttime lows around 39°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 15th (Sat) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in South Lake Tahoe

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Meeks Bay Beach, Emerald Bay State Park
Highlights from your plan
El Dorado Beach ©
El Dorado Beach
Pope Beach ©
Pope Beach
Emerald Bay State Park ©
Emerald Bay State Park

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