Golden State Adventure: A 10-Day California Family Road Trip

Get ready for an epic 10-day adventure through California's stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture! Starting and ending in San Francisco, this road trip itinerary takes you from the sun-kissed beaches of Santa Cruz to the stunning Los Angeles. Explore historic landmarks, national parks, and famous attractions as you drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, visit charming towns, and sample delicious local cuisine. Get ready to experience the best of the Golden State with your family on an unforgettable road trip!

A tour at a glance

Tour Price

Our private tours typically range from $500 - $1000 per person/per night depending on chosen hotels and room categories, vehicles used, types of tours, flight cost, time of year and other factors. Make an inquiry for a customized trip quote.

Start Planning your trip

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San Francisco

After arriving in San Francisco, meet your private guide, who will transfer you to your hotel. head out to explore the vibrant streets of San Francisco. Stroll down the iconic Lombard Street, also known as the "most crooked street in the world," because of its sharp hairpin turns, and take in the stunning views of the bay. Visit Fisherman's Wharf, a bustling neighborhood filled with seafood restaurants, street performers, and souvenir shops. 


In the evening, visit the Golden Gate Bridge, and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the city's renowned restaurants, before returning to your hotel to rest up for the adventures ahead.

Day 2: Exploring Monterey Bay

After a delicious breakfast, it's time to hit the road for a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway toward Monterey. The two-hour drive will take you along stunning coastal vistas and through charming seaside towns. Explore the historic downtown area of Monterey, which boasts many charming boutiques, antique stores, and art galleries. Admire the beautiful architecture of the historic buildings, including the adobe-style buildings at Custom House Plaza, the oldest governmental building in California.


After lunch, head straight to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest and most impressive aquariums in the world. Marvel at the mesmerizing marine life on display, including playful sea otters, colorful jellyfish, and majestic sharks. Enjoy a nightcap at one of the bars or lounges in the downtown area before returning to your hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 3: Monterey to Big Sur

Today, hop on a private one-hour drive to Big Sur and explore the natural beauty of the area. Your first stop is Bixby Bridge, one of the most photographed landmarks on the Pacific Coast Highway. Take a stroll across the bridge, and snap some unforgettable pictures of the stunning views of the coastline.


Next, head to McWay Falls, a breathtaking waterfall that cascades 80 feet onto the sandy beach below. Take in the beauty of the waterfall and the surrounding cove, which are part of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. For lunch, have a picnic at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Relax and soak in the tranquil atmosphere of the redwood forests and riverbanks. In the evening, check into your hotel and unwind in the serene surroundings. Take a stroll on the beach or simply relax by the pool. 

Day 4: Big Sur to San Simeon

After breakfast, get a private transfer to San Simeon and visit Hearst Castle. Take a guided tour of the historic mansion and learn about the fascinating history of the area. For lunch, stop by one of the local restaurants in San Simeon for a taste of the local cuisine, such as fresh seafood or farm-to-table dishes.


Next, head to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, and see hundreds of elephant seals lounging on the beach. It's a unique and unforgettable experience that your family will cherish for years to come. In the late evening, head back to your hotel and relax in the peaceful surroundings and enjoy a delectable dinner. 

Day 5: San Simeon to Santa Barbara

After breakfast, hop in your private vehicle and continue your journey south along the coast to Santa Barbara. The drive takes about three hours and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. head to the historic Santa Barbara Mission. This beautiful landmark dates back to 1786 and is one of the most visited attractions in the city. Take a guided tour of the grounds and learn about the history of the Spanish missions in California. 


Next, explore the charming downtown area of Santa Barbara, which is filled with shops, cafes, and galleries. Take a stroll along State Street, the city's main thoroughfare, and admire the Spanish Colonial architecture. Have lunch and then head to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which offers breathtaking views of the city from its clock tower. In the evening, check into your hotel and relax in the comfortable surroundings and enjoy a gourmet dinner.  

Day 6: Santa Barbara to Los Angeles

After breakfast, enjoy a two-hours scenic drive to Los Angeles and visit the Getty Center. Enjoy the stunning architecture and art collection. Have lunch at a local restaurant and try California's famous foods such as cheeseburgers and fries or chili cheese hot dogs. Next, visit Hollywood and Beverly Hills for sightseeing and shopping. In the late evening, check into your hotel for rest and a scrumptious dinner. 

Day 7: Los Angeles to Palm Springs

Today, drive to Palm Springs (a two-hour journey) and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Have lunch at a local restaurant and spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.

Day 8: Palm Springs to Joshua Tree National Park

After breakfast, make a visit to Joshua Tree National Park and spend the day exploring the unique rock formations and natural beauty of the area. Have a picnic lunch in the park and spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.

Day 9: Head to Yosemite National Park

Get ready to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite National Park. As you drive towards the park, the scenery transforms from desert landscapes to towering mountains, lush forests, and stunning waterfalls. Once inside the park, make your way to Yosemite Valley, home to some of the park's most iconic landmarks, such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Hike through the majestic trails, take in the awe-inspiring views, and breathe in the crisp mountain air.


Stop for a picnic lunch amidst the picturesque surroundings and spend the evening relaxing in your hotel, surrounded by the peace and serenity of the park. This is a day that will surely leave you with unforgettable memories of natural beauty and adventure.

Day 10: Return to San Francisco for departure

Return to San Francisco and spend the day at leisure. Have a farewell lunch at a premium restaurant and enjoy the city's vibrant culture before your private guide transfers you to the airport for a flight back home.


Best Time To Plan A California Road Trip

The best time to plan a California road trip is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and pleasant. The months of April to June and September to November are ideal for a road trip as the temperatures are comfortable, the crowds are thinner, and the prices are more affordable. However, if you want to visit the beaches, then summer is the best time as the weather is warm and sunny.


Fun Facts To Know About California


  • California is the most populous state in the United States, with over 39 million residents.
  • Hollywood, in Los Angeles, is the birthplace of the American film industry and is still the center of the industry today.
  • The iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is painted "International Orange" to make it more visible in the fog.
  • The state's official nickname is "The Golden State" due to the 1849 Gold Rush and the state's golden poppy flower.
  • California has the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States: Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) and Death Valley at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level.
  • The state is home to nine national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree.
  • California is the birthplace of the tech industry, with Silicon Valley located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • The world's oldest tree, a 5,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine named Methuselah, can be found in California's White Mountains.
  • San Diego is home to the largest naval fleet in the world.
  • California grows more than one-third of the nation's vegetables and two-thirds of the nation's fruits and nuts.




What is the total distance covered in this road trip?

The total distance covered in this 10-day California road trip is approximately 1,200 miles.


Can I modify this itinerary to suit my preferences?

Yes, you can modify this itinerary to suit your preferences. Feel free to connect with us to customize your preferences on certain destinations, activities, or sightseeing spots.


Is it necessary to hire a private guide for this road trip?

Booking this itinerary through Leisure includes having a private guide to enhance your experience and make your trip more comfortable and convenient. 


What type of accommodation is included in this itinerary?

The itinerary includes comfortable and luxurious hotels in California that are family-friendly and offer various amenities such as swimming pools, spas, and restaurants.


Is transportation included in the itinerary?

Yes, private transfers are included in the itinerary, but you can also opt for a self-drive option if you prefer.

Learn more about leisure plans

Signup for Exclusive Deals

Exclusive access to private sales, customized specials & more

Book Now