9 days in California Itinerary

9 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

9 days in California Itinerary

Start: Chicago
Fly + bus:  12​h
1
San Simeon
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
2
Carmel
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 15​min
3
San Francisco
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h
4
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
Drive + Fly:  9​h
End: Chicago

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 19th (Sun), look for all kinds of wild species at Elephant Seal Rookery, kick back and relax at Moonstone Beach, and then cruise along Moonstone Beach Dr. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 20th (Mon): enjoy the sand and surf at Piedras Blancas, then explore the historical opulence of Hearst Castle, and then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at The Old Santa Rosa Creek Chapel.

To see photos, other places to visit, where to stay, and more tourist information, use the San Simeon trip planner.

Chicago to San Simeon is an approximately 12-hour combination of flight and bus. You can also drive; or take a train. Traveling from Chicago to San Simeon, you'll gain 2 hours due to the time zone difference. When traveling from Chicago in May, plan for somewhat warmer days in San Simeon, with highs around 82°F, while nights are about the same with lows around 48°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Mon) early enough to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Simeon

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trip

Cambria
Highlights from your plan
Elephant Seal Rookery ©
Elephant Seal Rookery
Hearst Castle ©
Hearst Castle
Piedras Blancas ©
Piedras Blancas

1
night
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. Kick off your visit on the 21st (Tue): kick back and relax at Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge, then enjoy the sand and surf at Carmel River State Beach, and then immerse yourself in nature at Point Lobos.

For photos, more things to do, where to stay, and tourist information, go to the Carmel online trip itinerary builder .

Traveling by car from San Simeon to Carmel takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from San Simeon in May: highs in Carmel hover around 65°F, while lows dip to 51°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 21st (Tue) early enough to drive to San Francisco.

Things to do in Carmel

Outdoors Beaches Parks

Side Trip

Pacific Grove Shoreline Parkway Marine Refuge
Highlights from your plan
Carmel River State Beach ©
Carmel River State Beach
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos

2
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Wed): take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, then take in the pleasant sights at Fisherman's Wharf, and then head off the coast to Alcatraz Island. On the 23rd (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in the awesome beauty at Twin Peaks, take a stroll through SoMa, and then examine the collection at Musee Mecanique.

For ratings, more things to do, photos, and other tourist information, read our San Francisco vacation builder site .

Drive from Carmel to San Francisco in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 69°F in May, and nighttime lows around 53°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Thu) so you can drive to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in San Francisco

Neighborhoods Historic Sites Nature
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Fisherman's Wharf ©
Fisherman's Wharf

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.
Start off your visit on the 24th (Fri): take in the dramatic natural features at North Dome, then don't miss a visit to Washburn Point, then take in the dramatic natural features at Glacier Point, and finally make a trip to Olmsted Point. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: get great views at Tunnel View, then take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Cathedral Beach Picnic Area, then admire the sheer force of Vernal Fall, and finally admire the sheer force of Yosemite Falls.

For ratings, reviews, photos, and more tourist information, go to the Yosemite National Park online tour planner .

Drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and car; or do a combination of flight and bus. Traveling from San Francisco in May, Yosemite National Park is a bit cooler at night with lows of 34°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 26th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Nature Parks Wildlife
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Yosemite Falls ©
Yosemite Falls
Yosemite, Tunnel View ©
Yosemite, Tunnel View

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