From Vineyards to Caves – Getting the Most Out of a California Road Trip

As the third largest state in the United States, California boasts an expansive landscape that offers something for everyone. A California road trip is perfect for the single traveler, but the variety of options for activities also makes it a great destination for couples or groups. On a drive through the state, travelers can experience forests, vineyards, cities, and oceans. Whether you are riding solo or bringing the whole crew, you will want to be sure to check out these five great destinations.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is a must-see location for all nature-lovers. Whether you plan to hike, bike, or even ride on horseback, the park has over 750 miles of trails to explore. Every outdoor activity one can dream of is available in Yosemite. Experience rock climbing, camping, fishing, birdwatching, and more!

Even if you are not an avid outdoors person, the breathtaking scenery will make your stop at Yosemite worth it. For those looking to take things at a slower pace, guided tours are available year-round. Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls are popular spots that offer spectacular sights. Visitors should also tour the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to see trees that are larger than life.

Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley is located outside the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Since the valley is a designated location for vineyards, if you are a lover of wine, this place is for you. Try some of the best cabernet sauvignon in California at Jordan Vineyard & Winery. Known for its award-winning wines and hospitality, Jordan is committed to providing visitors with an intimate winery experience. Winery tours allow guests exclusive access to wine tasting in the cellar room and a walk-through of the signature Winery Chateau depicted on their bottles of wine.

Fisherman’s Wharf

If you stop in San Francisco, include a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf. This waterfront location is famous for its dining and shopping. Tourists can enjoy an assortment of fresh seafood, or they can opt for something more land-based, such as the famed prime rib at the Chart House or a juicy burger at the Hard Rock Cafe. Even if you have a hankering for foreign cuisine, the Wharf boasts restaurants that serve Indian, Italian, Mexican, Japanese and more.

Once your belly is full, tour a museum, unwind on a bay cruise, or enjoy drinks and live music at one of the local bars. If you are feeling adventurous, finish your visit to Fisherman’s Wharf with a ferry ride to the notorious Alcatraz Island, where you can tour the legendary prison and surrounding gardens.

Disneyland Resort

People of all ages can appreciate the rides and attractions at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Disneyland Resort is home to two distinct parks, the first of which is Disneyland Park, Walt Disney’s original theme park that opened in 1955. Disneyland Park provides visitors with a sense of the classic Disney atmosphere, including 8 themed-lands such as Mickey’s Toontown, New Orleans Square, and Adventureland. Each of these lands features rides, virtual experiences, food, shows, and more. As of summer 2019, Disneyland Park will add to its repertoire with the opening of a Star Wars-themed section.

The Disney California Adventure Park is the second park in the Disneyland Resort. It is themed after many of Disney’s more modern productions, combined with the idea of a park that embodies the spirit of California. It also features themed-lands, but caters to an older crowd, offering more thrill rides and several restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages. It is somewhat less traditional than Disneyland, but just as much fun. In order to get the most out of your trip, stay at one of the resort’s three hotels and devote a few days to exploring both parks thoroughly.

Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave

If you like history, beautiful views, and do not mind venturing down a steep staircase, check out Sunny Jim’s Cave in La Jolla, California. Entering the cave feels like a scene from a movie, as tourists begin the journey by climbing through a hole inside a quaint, little souvenir shop called The Sunny Jim Cave Store. The damp and dimly-lit path gives new meaning to the phrase “light at the end of the tunnel”, as it eventually opens to stunning views of the sunlit ocean and surrounding cliffs.

German artist and miner Gustuaf Schultz dreamed of creating a rare view of the oceanfront, so in 1902 he hired workers to begin digging the tunnel. After Schultz’s death, the tunnel is rumored to have been used for illegal bootlegging operations during the 1920s. To this day, it is the only sea cave in the state that can be accessed by land, and at a cost of only $5 for adults and $3 for children, touring this sea cave is both fascinating and affordable.

California is such a vast state that a road trip is a necessity if you want the full adventure. Whether you want to wine and dine, lounge on the beach, or climb a mountain, California should be a destination on every traveler’s list.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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