California - Driving Tour and Map
California and the surrounding areas in Nevada and Arizona are wonderful places for a driving tour of the USA. They offer a great variety of scenery with some spectacular attractions. Here is my favorite driving tour in the California - Nevada - Arizona area.
You can begin anywhere along this route. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas are good starting points because they have large airports with many international and domestic flights. You can follow the entire route or any part of it depending on how much time you have and how much driving you are willing to endure. I suggest you spend at least 3 days in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, as there is much to see in those cities. You should spend at least two days at Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and San Diego.
This driving tour map shows you the relative locations of the major attractions along the tour route. Directions gives you approximate distances and driving times. Attractions tells you what there is to see along the way.
California driving tour directions
San Francisco to Yosemite: 200 miles (300 km.) 4 - 5 hours drive
Yosemite to Monterey: 200 miles (300 km.) 4 - 5 hours drive
© Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Monterey to San Luis Obispo: 143 miles (240 km.) 3 - 8 hours drive
San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara: 100 miles (160 km.) 2 hours
Santa Barbara to Los Angeles: 100 miles (160 km.) 2 hours
Los Angeles to Las Vegas: 275 miles (450 km.) 5 hours
Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon: 225 miles (375 km.) 5 hours
Side Trip to Sedona, Arizona: 50 mile detour (80 km.) 1.5 hours each way
Grand Canyon to Palm Springs: 400 miles (650 km.) 8 hours
Palm Springs to San Diego: 130 miles (200 km.) 3 hours
San Diego to Los Angeles: 125 miles (200 km.) 3 hours
California Driving Tour Attractions
San Francisco: This beautiful city, situated on a series of hills overlooking a bright azure bay, is one of the most picturesque locations in the USA. Cable cars, Chinatown, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge adorn this jewel of the Pacific Coast. Muir Woods, the spectacular Marin headlands and the Napa Valley Wine country are all located nearby.
Yosemite National Park: A large mountainous park with Giant Sequoia trees and one of the most beautiful alpine valleys in the world. Over a dozen waterfalls cascade down the vertical granite walls of Yosemite valley with the highest at over 3,000 feet (1000 meters).
Monterey: Located on a broad circular bay, this is the home of Cannery Row, the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course and those fabulous homes on its rocky shoreline. The artist community of Carmel, that once claimed actor Clint Eastwood as its mayor, is located nearby. Along highway one south of Monterey lies the spectacular Big Sur coast.
San Luis Obispo: An old mission town in the hills overlooking the Pacific is a convenient resting spot along the central coast.
Santa Barbara: Beautiful sandy beaches lined with swaying palm trees and fabulous homes with spectacular views of the pacific. This paradise is located in the center of the central coast wine region just south of the Danish village of Solvang.
Los Angeles: Dozens of separate communities that have coalesced into one giant metropolis spreading across a fifty-mile wide basin along the Pacific shore. This is Hollywood, Beverly Hills and all of those great Southern California surfing beaches.
Las Vegas: The biggest, most spectacular adult playground in the world. The neon lighted Las Vegas Strip is lined with fantastic casinos that offers great shows, music and entertainment.
The Grand Canyon: The South Rim visitors' center of the Grand Canyon lies on the Colorado High Plateau near the small town of Tusayan sixty miles north of Williams, Arizona. It offers spectacular views of this great natural wonder. From here you can hike down into the canyon or fly over it via airplane or helicopter.
Palm Springs: This desert community just 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles with its year round sunshine, many golf courses, upscale shopping and fancy restaurants is the vacation home for Hollywood stars. Joshua Tree National Park is nearby.
San Diego: Just a few hours south of Los Angeles, this city is a smaller cleaner version of Los Angeles with great beaches and a year around pleasant climate. It is a few miles north of the wild Mexican border town of Tiajuana.
Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: Rugged beach along Santa Barbara coastline