7 Must-See Stops for the Ultimate California Road Trip from North to South

California road trip

Perfect weather. Beautiful beaches. No shortage of nature.

The romantic concept of the California road trip is about as American as you can get, isn’t it? There’s a reason why tourists flock to the Golden State in droves year after year to experience everything the state has to offer.

But the question remains: which cities are considered “must see” during a California adventure?

Whether you’re looking for RV rentals in Sacramento or are interested in camping up and down the California coast, consider the following seven stops as the top places to check out over the course of your trip.


The state’s largest coastal city has plenty of charm and somewhat of a small-town vibe. The city’s Victorian architecture, Redwood forests and the breathtaking bay are all top priorities for tourists, not to mention a variety of trails and botanical gardens for nature-lovers looking to get out and about.

Lake Tahoe

One of the country’s premiere spots for skiing and snowboarding, Tahoe is a dream come true for those who want to spend some serious time on the slopes. Those visiting over the summer similarly have no shortage of adventure options in paddleboarding, parasailing and biking. The elegant Emerald Bay State Park represents stop for those looking for a high altitude photo-op.


California’s capital and cornerstone of the Gold Rush, Sacramento is brimming with history. Between its numerous museums and historical sites, those who want to experience a blast from the state’s past need look no further. Sutter’s Fort and the Sacramento Zoo are two especially awesome hotspots for those traveling with children.

San Francisco

Famed for the historical Golden Gate Bridge, there are a variety of tours through San Francisco to help visitors take in all the amazing architecture this stunning city boasts. Spend some time the beloved San Francisco Bay or take a ferry to a self-guided tour of Alcatraz Island: seriously, there’s something here for everyone.

Santa Barbara

Welcome to wine country! This city is a wine lover’s dream, with seemingly endless tasting and tours on just about every corner. Additionally, there’s perhaps no better place in the state to catch some rays and watch surfers work their magic on some absolutely massive waves. If you’re looking for the traditional “California” vibe, chances are you’ll find it here.

Los Angeles

What’s a trip to California without spending a bit of time in the City of Angels? From taking a Hollywood tour to checking out Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, those in love with the entertainment industry will have no trouble fitting activities into their schedule. If you’re willing to splash some cash, the shopping options LA are second-to-none.

San Diego

Last but not least, San Diego offers that classic California climate and beach vibes to boot. A foodie’s dream city with no shortage of things to do outdoors, including the acclaimed San Diego Zoo, what better place to conclude your tour of California?

Make the most of your California adventure by taking in as many of these cities as you can. And hey, there’s no reason why you can’t come back if you miss out on one, right? By sticking to the spots on this list, we guarantee that you’ll see the state right.

Author: Susan Melony