41 days in California Itinerary

41 days in California Itinerary

Created using Inspirock California trip planner

Make it your trip
Drive
1
Carmel
— 1 day
Drive
2
Cambria
— 2 nights
Drive
3
Santa Barbara
— 2 nights
Drive
4
Los Angeles
— 2 nights
Drive
5
Palm Springs
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Death Valley National Park
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Mammoth Lakes
— 2 nights
Bus
8
Yosemite National Park
— 2 nights
Drive
9
Truckee
— 2 nights
Drive
10
Sacramento
— 2 nights
Drive
11
Mount Shasta
— 2 nights
Drive
12
Arcata
— 1 night
Fly
13
San Francisco
— 19 nights

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Carmel

— 1 day
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. Start off your visit on the 12th (Thu): grab your bike and head to Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, then appreciate the extensive heritage of Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard, then immerse yourself in nature at Point Lobos, and finally stop by The Cheese Shop.

To see more things to do, maps, photos, and more tourist information, read our Carmel trip itinerary builder tool.

San Francisco to Carmel is an approximately 2-hour car ride. You can also fly; or take a bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 19°C, and evening lows to 7°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Thu) early enough to drive to Cambria.

Things to do in Carmel

Parks · Nature · Trails · Outdoors

Side Trips

Cambria

— 2 nights
Cambria is a seaside village in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along California State Route 1 (Highway 1). Kick off your visit on the 13th (Fri): admire the majestic nature at Leffingwell Landing, identify plant and animal life at Piedras Blancas, then examine the collection at Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay (Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary), and finally look for gifts at Artifacts Gallery. Keep things going the next day: tour the pleasant surroundings at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, then trek along Bluff Trail, and then immerse yourself in nature at Montana de Oro State Park.

To find reviews, where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, read Cambria tour planning app.

Traveling by car from Carmel to Cambria takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus, train, and taxi. Traveling from Carmel in December, plan for a bit cooler nights in Cambria, with lows around 0°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 14th (Sat) to allow time to drive to Santa Barbara.

Things to do in Cambria

Parks · Wildlife · Outdoors · Nature

Side Trips

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.
Kick off your visit on the 15th (Sun): stroll through Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve and Rookery, kick back and relax at Carpinteria State Beach, wander the streets of State Street Underpass, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Douglas Family Preserve, and finally learn about winemaking at Margerum Wine Company Tasting Room. Keep things going the next day: get a new perspective on nature at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, then take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Cold Spring Tavern, then learn more about the world around you at Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, and finally take in the history at Old Mission Santa Ines.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, reviews, and more tourist information, use the Santa Barbara road trip site.

You can drive from Cambria to Santa Barbara in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of bus and train. Traveling from Cambria in December, expect somewhat warmer with lows of 5°C in Santa Barbara. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) to allow time to drive to Los Angeles.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Wildlife

Side Trips

Los Angeles

— 2 nights

City of Angels

Surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, valleys, beaches, and deserts, the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is home to over 17 million people.
Start off your visit on the 17th (Tue): take a leisurely stroll along Santa Monica Pier, stroll through Venice Beach and Boardwalk, examine the collection at The Getty Center, then stop by LA Farmers' Market, and finally shop like a local with The Grove. Here are some ideas for day two: make an unforgettable trip to Disneyland Park.

For maps, more things to do, ratings, and more tourist information, go to the Los Angeles day trip planning site.

Traveling by car from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a train. Expect somewhat warmer evenings in Los Angeles when traveling from Santa Barbara in December, with lows around 11°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 18th (Wed) early enough to go by car to Palm Springs.

Things to do in Los Angeles

Theme Parks · Shopping · Beaches · Parks

Side Trips

Palm Springs

— 2 nights
Kick off your visit on the 19th (Thu): get engrossed in the history at Cabot's Pueblo Museum, stop by Brandini Toffee, then stroll through Indian Canyons Hiking Trails, then explore the ancient world of Indian Canyons, and finally stop by Motif. Keep things going the next day: tour the pleasant surroundings at South Lykken Trail, then skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and then get to know the fascinating history of Las Palmas.

To see other places to visit, traveler tips, photos, and more tourist information, you can read our Palm Springs trip planner.

You can drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Palm Springs can reach 24°C, while at night they dip to 10°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Death Valley National Park.

Things to do in Palm Springs

Parks · Outdoors · Tours · Historic Sites

Side Trips

Death Valley National Park

— 2 nights

Hottest, Driest, Lowest

Extreme heat and dryness create extreme landscapes in Death Valley National Park.
Kick off your visit on the 21st (Sat): take in the dramatic natural features at Zabriskie Point, then explore the stunning scenery at Twenty Mule Team Canyon, then contemplate the long history of Harmony Borax Works, and finally contemplate the long history of Eureka Mine. On the 22nd (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: explore the stunning scenery at Mosaic Canyon, explore the activities along Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, then explore the fascinating underground world of Titus Canyon, and finally don't miss a visit to Ashford Mill Ruins.

To find where to stay, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Death Valley National Park driving holiday planner.

Traveling by car from Palm Springs to Death Valley National Park takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus, train, and car; or take a bus. Expect little chillier temperatures when traveling from Palm Springs in December; daily highs in Death Valley National Park reach 15°C and lows reach 0°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 22nd (Sun) to allow time to drive to Mammoth Lakes.

Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Parks · Nature · Historic Sites · Trails

Mammoth Lakes

— 2 nights
Mammoth Lakes is a town in Mono County, California, the county's only incorporated community. On the 23rd (Mon), fly down the slopes at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center, then take an in-depth tour of Mammoth Museum at the Hayden Cabin, then trek along Crystal Lake trail, and finally see the interesting displays at Eleven53 Interpretive Center. On the 24th (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: tour the pleasant surroundings at June Mountain, then trek along Parker Lake Trail, and then stop by Footloose Sports in Mammoth Lakes.

To see more things to do, where to stay, traveler tips, and more tourist information, go to the Mammoth Lakes trip itinerary builder tool.

Getting from Death Valley National Park to Mammoth Lakes by car takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and bus. Plan for a bit cooler temperatures traveling from Death Valley National Park in December, with highs in Mammoth Lakes at 9°C and lows at -11°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) so you can take a bus to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Mammoth Lakes

Outdoors · Parks · Winter Sports · Trails

Side Trip

Yosemite National Park

— 2 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.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): hike along Panorama Trail, admire the sheer force of Vernal Fall, then admire the masterpieces at Yosemite Museum Gallery, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Cathedral Beach Picnic Area, and finally explore the striking landscape at Glacier Point. On the 26th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: fly down the slopes at Badger Pass Ski Area.

To find traveler tips, ratings, reviews, and more tourist information, use the Yosemite National Park trip tool.

You can take a bus from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite National Park in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Expect a daytime high around 9°C in December, and nighttime lows around -11°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) to allow time to travel to Truckee.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks · Outdoors · Winter Sports · Trails

Truckee

— 2 nights
Truckee is an incorporated town in Nevada County, California, United States. On the 27th (Fri), fly down the slopes at Diamond Peak Ski & Snowboard School, then kick back and relax at Sand Harbor, and then contemplate the long history of Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society. On your second day here, fly down the slopes at Northstar California.

To see photos and tourist information, you can read our Truckee vacation builder tool.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Yosemite National Park to Truckee. When traveling from Yosemite National Park in December, plan for slightly colder days in Truckee, with highs around 5°C, while nights are about the same with lows around -11°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Sat) so you can drive to Sacramento.

Things to do in Truckee

Parks · Outdoors · Winter Sports · Beaches

Side Trips

Sacramento

— 2 nights

River City

The capital city of America's most economically significant state, Sacramento is an important stop for any politico.
On the 29th (Sun), admire the masterpieces at Crocker Art Museum, stroll through Effie Yeaw Nature Center, then get curious at Aerospace Museum of California, and finally look for gifts at Westfield Galleria at Roseville. On the 30th (Mon), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take an in-depth tour of California State Indian Museum, view the masterpieces at The Artery, see the interesting displays at Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, then examine the collection at California State Railroad Museum, and finally admire the natural beauty at California State Capitol Museum.

For reviews, more things to do, other places to visit, and tourist information, you can read our Sacramento trip tool.

Traveling by car from Truckee to Sacramento takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a train. When traveling from Truckee in December, plan for a bit warmer days and warmer nights in Sacramento: temperatures range from 17°C by day to 3°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Mount Shasta.

Things to do in Sacramento

Museums · Parks · Wildlife · Shopping

Side Trips

Mount Shasta

— 2 nights
Mount Shasta is a city in Siskiyou County, California, at about 3600ft above sea level on the flanks of Mount Shasta, a prominent northern California landmark. Kick off your visit on the 31st (Tue): look for gifts at The Weed Store, examine the collection at Siskiyou County Museum, then contemplate the geological forces at Mount Shasta, and finally get engrossed in the history at The McCloud Heritage Junction Museum. On your second day here, take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Castle Lake, glide through natural beauty at Mt. Shasta Nordic Center, and then get impressive views of Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

To find maps, ratings, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Mount Shasta trip planning website.

Getting from Sacramento to Mount Shasta by car takes about 3.5 hours. In December, Mount Shasta is a bit cooler than Sacramento - with highs of 8°C and lows of -2°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) early enough to travel to Arcata.

Things to do in Mount Shasta

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Wildlife

Side Trips

Arcata

— 1 night
Arcata, originally Union Town or Union, is a city adjacent to the Arcata Bay portion of Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County, California, United States. On the 2nd (Thu), stroll through Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, then stroll through Moonstone Beach, then enjoy the sand and surf at College Cove, and finally appreciate the history behind Trinidad Memorial and Memorial Lighthouse.

To find other places to visit, ratings, photos, and more tourist information, refer to the Arcata attractions app.

Traveling by car from Mount Shasta to Arcata takes 4 hours. Plan for a bit warmer temperatures traveling from Mount Shasta in January, with highs in Arcata at 15°C and lows at 5°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Thu) so you can travel to San Francisco.

Things to do in Arcata

Parks · Beaches · Outdoors · Wildlife

Side Trip

San Francisco

— 19 nights

City by the Bay

San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Step out of the city life by going to Alcatraz Island and Armstrong Redwood State Reserve. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Marin Headlands and Exploratorium. Change things up with these side-trips from San Francisco: Bodega Bay (Hagemann Ranch Trout Fishing, Bodega Head, &more), Sonoma Coast State Beach (in Sonoma) and Bodega Dunes (in Bodega). Spend the 19th (Sun) exploring nature at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The adventure continues: snap pictures at Golden Gate Bridge, take a peaceful walk through Muir Woods National Monument, take in the spiritual surroundings of Grace Cathedral, and admire the majestic nature at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

To find maps, ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, read our San Francisco trip planner.

The Route module can help you plan travel from Arcata to San Francisco. January in San Francisco sees daily highs of 17°C and lows of 9°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Tue) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks · Outdoors · Beaches · Museums

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.