8 days in California Itinerary

8 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

8 days in California Itinerary

Start: Washington DC
Fly:  7​h
1
San Francisco
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h
2
Yosemite National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h 45​min
3
Carmel
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 30​min
4
Santa Barbara
— 1 night
Drive:  1​h 45​min
5
Los Angeles
— 2 nights
Fly:  8​h
End: Washington DC

1
night
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Kick off your visit on the 26th (Wed): admire all the interesting features of Alcatraz Island and then stop by Vital Tea Leaf. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: hunt for treasures at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, buy something for everyone on your list at Ferry Building Marketplace, then contemplate the long history of City Lights Booksellers, then see the interesting displays at Cable Car Museum, and finally get a taste of the local shopping with Union Square.

For where to stay, ratings, other places to visit, and tourist information, read our San Francisco trip planning site .

Washington DC to San Francisco is an approximately 7-hour flight. You can also do a combination of subway, bus, and flight; or drive. The time zone difference when traveling from Washington DC to San Francisco is minus 3 hours. Expect a bit warmer temperatures when traveling from Washington DC in December; daily highs in San Francisco reach 59°F and lows reach 45°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 27th (Thu) early enough to go by car to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in San Francisco

Shopping Historic Sites Nature
Highlights from your plan
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Cable Car Museum ©
Cable Car Museum
Union Square ©
Union Square

1
night
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.
On the 28th (Fri), admire the sheer force of Yosemite Falls, examine the collection at Yosemite Museum Gallery, then get advice or help at Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center, and finally explore the striking landscape at Glacier Point.

To find where to stay, photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, go to the Yosemite National Park vacation planner .

Traveling by car from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of subway, flight, bus, and taxi. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from San Francisco in December: highs in Yosemite National Park hover around 46°F, while lows dip to 14°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 28th (Fri) so you can go by car to Carmel.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Nature Parks Shopping
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Yosemite Falls ©
Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Museum Gallery ©
Yosemite Museum Gallery

2
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. Start off your visit on the 29th (Sat): tour the pleasant surroundings at Carmel River State Beach, admire the majestic nature at Point Lobos, and then look for gifts at The Cheese Shop. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: take in the exciting artwork at Steven Whyte's Sculpture Studio and Gallery, take in the exciting artwork at Carmel Art Association, pick up a one of a kind souvenir at The Pilgrims Way Books and Secret Garden, then get a taste of the local shopping with Gallery by the Sea Carmel, then enjoy the sand and surf at Pfeiffer State Beach, and finally stop by Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar.

For traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, read Carmel trip builder site .

You can drive from Yosemite National Park to Carmel in 5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of taxi, bus, and train. Traveling from Yosemite National Park in December, expect nights in Carmel to be much warmer, around 43°F, while days are a bit warmer, around 62°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 30th (Sun) early enough to drive to Santa Barbara.

Things to do in Carmel

Beaches Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Pfeiffer State Beach, Monterey's Tasty Olive Bar
Highlights from your plan
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Pfeiffer State Beach ©
Pfeiffer State Beach

1
night
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara ©
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.
On the 31st (Mon), explore and take pictures at State Street, then contemplate the long history of Old Mission Santa Barbara, then look for gifts at The Sacred Space, and finally stop by Italian Pottery Outlet.

To see photos, maps, reviews, and tourist information, read Santa Barbara road trip tool .

Drive from Carmel to Santa Barbara in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or do a combination of bus and flight. Expect a daytime high around 67°F in December, and nighttime lows around 41°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Mon) early enough to drive to Los Angeles.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Shopping Historic Sites Neighborhoods

Side Trip

The Sacred Space
Highlights from your plan
The Sacred Space ©
The Sacred Space
Old Mission Santa Barbara ©
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Italian Pottery Outlet ©
Italian Pottery Outlet

2
nights
Los Angeles

Los Angeles ©
Surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, valleys, beaches, and deserts, the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is home to over 17 million people.
On the 1st (Tue), stop by Hollywood & Highland, buy something for everyone on your list at The Grove, then explore the world behind art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then stop by Bergamot Station, and finally wander the streets of Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

To see maps, reviews, and tourist information, use the Los Angeles trip planner .

Traveling by car from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a bus. Traveling from Santa Barbara in December, expect a bit warmer with lows of 49°F in Los Angeles. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 2nd (Wed) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Los Angeles

Shopping Museums Neighborhoods

Side Trip

Bergamot Station
Highlights from your plan
Abbot Kinney Boulevard ©
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
The Getty Center ©
The Getty Center
Los Angeles County Museum of Art ©
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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