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Great Californian Drives

Great Californian Drives

Discover grand vistas, charming towns and urban delights along California's scenic byways

Think of California and road trips immediately spring to mind. From the scenic California classic on Highway One hugging mountains that drop suddenly into the Pacific Ocean, to the High Sierra region, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite are just two of the countless classic drives within the state of California. The hidden corner of North California has everything from shimmering lakes to scenic back country roads taking in the redwoods and Mount Shasta or the desert region from Death Valley to Joshua tree as well as the unknown interior of Sacramento to Fresno, taking in the wine country and California’s agricultural heart.

Road Trips 

Great Californian DrivesGreat Californian Drives

Great Californian Drives
Open top convertible with the wind rushing through your hair, or an RV for your home on wheels - whatever you choose, a road trip allows you to be the master of your own destiny and fulfil that life-long dream to cruise around California. Fly-drive holidays offer the independence and flexibility for you to explore the state at your own pace and style. Choose from one of the many classic routes across varied landscapes and to iconic destinations. Or mix it up and make your own route! Renting a car in California easy. You must have a valid driver's license, a passport (for non-US citizens) and a credit card (used for a security deposit), and you usually must be at least 25 years of age. Another way to tour California — and a fun one at that — is by motor home (RV).

Highway 1Highway 1

Highway 1
Start in Francisco and take the famous Pacific Coast Highway (State 1) heading south and you'll twist along California's spectacular sea cliffs encountering one beautiful beach, charming town and wildlife haven after another. From Half Moon Bay and the famous Golf Links and onto Santa Cruz and its beach boardwalk and famous surfing spots. Monterey Bay is home to sea otters and an incredible array of wildlife much of which is explained in the aquarium. Carmel is a sweet chocolate box town and then you hit Big Sur... an un-spoilt paradise and a place to savour. Don't miss the Elephant seals basking in the sun just before the majestic Hearst Castle appears on the horizon. The dunes at Morro Bay are spectacular and you’ll hit the rolling hills and vineyards of Santa Barbara County made famous by the film Sideways.

Route 395Route 395

Route 395
Running the eastern length of the state past dramatic mountain peaks, high desert and old west towns like Lone Pine - a drive down U.S. 395 rivals famous Highway 1 for spectacular postcard-perfect scenery. The sharply notched mountains of the Sierras mark the eastern edge of California and the western edge of the sagebrush-studded high-mountain deserts of the Great Basin.

Southern California SunshineSouthern California Sunshine

Southern California Sunshine
Take this loop drive to explore Disneyland®, Palm Springs, giant trees and the incredible Death Valley. This circle tour takes you from the glamourflash of Los Angeles to the relaxed waterfront city of San Diego, then up and over dramatic mountains to stylish Palm Springs and the extreme conditions and arid beauty of Death Valley. Climb west over the Sierra Nevada to glorious Yosemite, then head back to the sun-splashed coast. And for a touch of nostalgia, take a detour via Old Highway 66 as it skirts the edge of the Mojave Desert and through scenic byways into LA.

Credits: California Travel & Tourism Commission

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Great Californian Drives
Highway 1
Route 395
Southern California Sunshine