California is the third largest state in the USA.  As a matter of fact, California is bigger than some European nations such as the UK, Italy and Germany.  For this reason, it’s important how to plan a California road trip to maximise your visit.  Tried and tested routes through California include the Big Sur and parts of Route 66 as well as Highway 395.

How to Plan a California Road Trip with KAYAK

Upon planning your California road trip you must choose a good hire car.  The hire car you choose will make a huge difference to the comfort and enjoyment of your road trip.

Choosing a Hire Car with KAYAK

KAYAK searches hundreds of car hire sites at once.  For this reason, simply perform a single search and you’ll see the prices of several different car hire companies all on one page.  Which is your preferred car hire company?  Filter out your favorite car hire companies to see the different competitive prices they offer on different websites.  Afterwards, simply select the best price.

Here is my tip for saving hundreds of dollars on your car rental.  Once you know your dates check the hire car prices in different cities.  The price of a car in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and San Diego will vary greatly.  Additionally, why not check the prices over the border in Las Vegas?  It’s only a couple of hours drive to Death Valley National Park.

Choosing a California Hotel with KAYAK

My advice for booking hotels during your California road trip is to download the KAYAK app on your phone.  As a result, when you’re ready to book a hotel, simply choose one near your ‘current location’.  This will give you the most freedom to take your time and explore California without the need to be in a certain place at a certain time.  Alternatively, if you know where you’ll be on a certain date go ahead and book the hotel in advance.

Book Your Car, Hotel and Flight


California Road Trip Inspiration with KAYAK

California Road Trip Inspiration with KAYAK

California is the second largest state in the contiguous USA with thousands of different road trip possibilities.  The KAYAK team have discovered several road trips not only in California but around the whole country.  In California, KAYAK recommend a few weekend trips where you fly in to California and make short trips.  Recommenced short California road trips include Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park and San Francisco to Mendocino.

More California Road Trip Inspiration

Hire car for California Road Trip

Let me share a few must see California road trip destinations.  But firstly, with all those savings through KAYAK, why not upgrade your hire car and travel through California in style?

Yosemite National Park

California Road Trip - Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a must visit on a your California road trip.  Famous for its huge sequoia trees, it’s also home to a top Instagram spot called Tunnel View.  Driving around Yosemite National Park is an experience in itself as you drive through tunnels chiseled into rocks.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park - California Road Trip

Joshua Tree National Park is famous for its unique rock formations and of course the iconic Joshua trees.  Photographers will be in their element capturing these unique trees in different sunlight throughout the day.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park Road Trip

Did you know the hottest and one of the lowest places on earth is located in Death Valley, California?  Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center and take your photo with the current high temperature (it was 109°F when I visited!).  As you explore the park, you’ll discover some out of this world natural formations which may persuade you to stay an extra day or two.  Take plenty of water and beware of the rattlesnakes!

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park - Road Trip

Drive to the north of California to discover Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Have you ever seen a live volcano?  Lassen Volcano last erupted in 1915 and you can drive through the devastated area.  In fact, the lava rocks from the last eruption can be seen throughout the woodland forest.  Additionally, don’t miss Bumpass Hell which is home to several boiling mud-pots.  Finally, read about the things to do in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Wine Country

Road Trip through California Wine Country

California is famous for its wine.  For this reason, wine enthusiast must take the California road trip through the famous wine region.  Napa Valley is where  most people think of when you mention California wine.  However, true wine enthusiasts should also explore Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Solano, as well as Marin Counties.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe - California Road Trip

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and one of the deepest lakes in the world.  Emerald Bay State Park is a stunningly beautiful area of the lake to visit.  Lastly, if you hop over the Nevada border to Reno or Carson City, accommodation is excellent value.

Japanese Prisoner of War Camp

Japanese Prisoner of War Camp, California

Manzanar is the site of a former American prisoner of war camp.  Throughout World War II, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated here.  Manzanar is located at the end of Highway 395.

San Francisco

San Francisco - California Road Trip

Driving in San Francisco gives you the opportunity to drive on the most crooked street in America, Lombard Street.  In addition, you can ride up and down the famed steep streets of the city.  However, I recommend you find a hotel with parking and enjoy San Francisco on foot.  Read about the San Francisco landmarks.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles Road Trip

Los Angeles is definitely a city you need a hire car to explore.  There are countless Los Angeles landmarks to discover including Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Griffith Park, Santa Monica as well as Avenue of the Stars to name a few.  Discover Los Angeles hotels with KAYAK.

San Diego

How to Plan a California Road Trip - San Diego

San Diego is my favorite city in California.  There are many San Diego landmarks to visit but without the huge number of people you’ll find in other California cities.  One attraction which warrants a visit in itself is the stunningly beautiful Balboa Park which feels more like Spain than the USA.  Discover San Diego Hotels with KAYAK.

Finally… Try an In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger is the famed California burger chain.  You’ll see plenty of these as you enjoy your California road trip and they’re an excellent place to fuel up.

How to Plan a California Road Trip – Enjoy

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for an upcoming California road trip.  The most important thing to take away is that this is your California road trip and you have the freedom to go exactly where you want for as long as you desire.  Enjoy.

Read about how to plan a USA road trip with KAYAK.