Grown-ups’ California road trip

California. World-famous California. I’ve had California on my travel wish list for a long time. If, like me, you’re a big fan of television and film, when you think of California, you think of Hollywood and Los Angeles and San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge, as seen in the opening of the TV series Full House. I could go on and on!


But California is all that and so much more. Nature lovers, foodies, arts and culture buffs, sun-seekers, water babies… California will seduce you with everything it has to offer. The beach. Mountains. The desert. Bustling cities. And so much more.

It was definitely well worth the wait—I fell in love at first sight, and was struck by everything I experienced. I was charmed by the state’s natural beauty and quickly adopted the locals’ laid-back lifestyle, which did me a world of good.

On JSUM you’ll find a full summary of our trip, with reviews and links to most of the places we visited, plus my favourite feature: what to see next time (because I definitely want to go back!). Also, I’ve shared five must-see spots for grown-up trips on Véronique Cloutier’s site.

California Dreaming!

Our full itinerary (click on the links for more information)

-      Arrival in San Francisco (Day 1)

-      San Francisco (Day 2)

-      Couples' retreat: 24 hours in Monterey (Day 3)

-      Road trip to LA on Route 1 (Day 4)

-      Weekend in LA! (Days 5-6)

-      48 hours in Palm Springs (Days 7-8)

-      Back to LA via Huntington Beach (Day 9) 

-      Return flight via Los Angeles (Day 10)

Our recommendations

1. If you’re short on time (7 days or less), I really recommend focusing on a particular region in California for a tour or road trip, like sticking to the north (San Francisco), the south (San Diego) or the centre (LA or Palm Springs). If you try to include too many stops along the way in too little time, you’ll be spending most of your vacation in the car.

2. With the route that we chose, I’d plan for two weeks next time. I’d add another day in San Francisco, one or two more in Monterey, and one more in Huntington [SH2] Beach.

3. If you can do this road trip in a convertible, definitely go for it! Nothing beats driving along the Pacific coast with the top down.

4. In November, December and January, temperatures aren’t terribly warm. During the day, depending on your destination, it can vary between 10 and 22 degrees, and at night temps can drop to 14 or 15 degrees. If you’re travelling in the winter, be prepared!

Budget-friendly tips

  • Travelling during the low season will help stretch your dollar.
  • The further in advance you reserve your rental car, the better the price you’ll get.
  • Keep on top of airline prices to get the best deal. A flight from Plattsburgh or Burlington could reap big savings.
  • Your CAA card is the equivalent of the American AAA card, and can help you save 10-20% in hotel costs.

Is California a family-friendly destination?

Absolutely! I might just tweak some of our itinerary to make the trip more family-focused. For example, if we did Route 1, the Pacific Highway, with our kids, I’d plan a pit stop between Monterey and LA, since it otherwise makes for a pretty long day in the car. The route is winding and leisurely (compared to a straight freeway), which could drain your kids’ patience with being in the car.

There are so many activities to do as a family, from the beach to hiking and everything in between. It’s a fantastic choice for a family vacation.

I definitely caught the travel bug in 2016. Travel opens your mind and spirit to new adventures, helps you grow as a person, and brings us back to the basics. I can’t say it enough. Our trip to California only served to reinforce my thoughts on the subject.

And besides, opening yourself up to the world is a way to gain some inward perspective as well.

Many thanks to California for the important reminder!

*Jaime was on a press trip to California from December 14-23, a trip made possible thanks to the partnership of Visit California and the tourism boards of: See MontereyDiscover Los AngelesGreater Palm SpringsHuntington Beach

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