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Motorhome roadtrips booked

San Francisco to San Diego via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

2499 km

Total Distance

27 hrs

Est Driving Time

San Francisco to San Diego via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Motorhome Itinerary

Overview

It’s possible to plan a west coast road trip itinerary from San Francisco to San Diego that will only take one (very long) day of driving, but that sounds like a recipe for the most boring road trip ever. Instead, we present a great American road trip, designed for motorhomes, that takes in some of the most exciting and spectacular locations across California, Nevada and Arizona. From the mountains and megafauna of Yosemite National Park to the vertiginous heights and plunging depths of the Grand Canyon, from foggy 'Frisco to sunny San Diego, this San Francisco to San Diego road trip will unveil wonder after wonder, both natural and man made.

Any road trip in America has the potential to be amazing but this west coast-anchored road trip truly excels at showing off what this country has to offer. Pick up an RV rental and #LetsGoMotorhome !

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Leg 1 San Francisco to Yosemite National Park

264 km

Total Distance

03 hrs, 30 mins

Est Driving Time

When most people think of California, it’s the sun kissed hills and boulevards of Los Angeles that they’re picturing. Northern California offers an entirely different experience however, one that is just as beautiful and rewarding (if not more so) than its more famous southern counterpart. From the unofficial capital and cultural hub of the region to its most iconic national park, this first leg of your journey is the ultimate introduction to both the urban and natural riches of Northern California.
 
San Francisco
 
The city of San Francisco makes for a perfect place to start just about any kind of road trip - the only danger being, of course, that you may never want to leave. Combining the best of the business, art and cultural worlds, Frisco buzzes with vibrant energy and invites its visitors to celebrate and enjoy the glorious array of food, music, theatre, art and architecture on display in this beautiful, multifaceted city. 
 
One of the best ways to start your exploration of San Francisco is jumping aboard an historic cable car, one of San Francisco’s most recognizable icons. The city’s cable car network was established between 1873 and 1890 and is the world’s last remaining manually operated cable car system. The cable cars aren’t just an integral part of the city’s history - they’re also a great way to see some of San Francisco’s highlights. If you’re looking to learn a little more about the how this ingenious system works, you can hop off the cable cars at Mason and Washington streets to take a look inside the Cable Car Museum where you’ll learn about the origins of San Fran’s cable network and even get to see giant wheels turning the underground cables that power the cars.
 
It’s not within the city itself however that the most popular of San Francisco attractions lies, but in the cold, hazardous currents of San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Island, set 2.4 kilometres off the coast, has a dark and storied history - originally built up as a fortress, the island was used to house prisoners as early as the 1860’s. It became famous as the prison that was virtually inescapable thanks to its remote location amidst the icy waters of the Bay. Today, tours out to Alcatraz are a huge hit with tourists, and should definitely be high on your list of things to do in San Francisco. The audio cellhouse tour is particularly engrossing - walk through the old cell blocks as you hear the story of the place told to you by former guards and inmates. If you’re visiting in summertime, make sure to book your tour early as they can often sell out. Also, no matter what the season, always bring a warm jacket with you - strong winds and heavy fog can turn a summer’s day to freezing in no time. 
 
One of the very best ways to really get to grips with what lies at the heart of a city is to sample its iconic dishes. In San Francisco, that means trying out a Mission Burrito. Massive packets of meat, beans, rice, cheese, guacamole and salsa wrapped up in a steamed tortilla are waiting for your teeth to sink into them - when it comes to Mexican-American food, this is pretty much the top of the food chain. The subject of which venue serves the best Mission Burritos is a matter of hot contention among locals, but consensus generally tips toward La Taqueria on Mission Street (in spite of the fact that they don’t include rice, which riles up traditionalists no end). You can make up your own mind on the matter though - sampling burritos from at least a couple places over the course of your stay here is highly recommended. 
 
Alcatraz may be the city’s  leading attraction but no visit to San Francisco could be complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the most photographed bridge in the world, and it’s not hard to understand why. This striking architectural wonder spans 2.7 kilometres across Golden Gate strait - for those who wish to get up close to this world famous icon, there’s no better way than walking across it. Opening hours vary between the East and West sides of the bridge, so which side you’ll be visiting will depend on when you’re planning your walk. No matter when you’re going or what the weather is like, be sure to wear some warm layers as the wind on the bridge can turn even the sunniest of days icy.
 
Watching a baseball game at AT&T Park should definitely be on the agenda for any sports fan. Whether you follow baseball religiously or have never been to a game in your life, AT&T Park provides the perfect ‘day out at the ballgame’ experience that everyone should try, at least once. For many, it’s more about the atmosphere than the game itself - there’s an almost carnival-like air to proceedings, so no matter who wins at the end of the day you’re sure to come away having had a great time.
 
Foodies will find themselves in heaven at the Ferry Building Market. Three days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) farmers and artisan purveyors of fine foods gather at San Francisco’s Ferry Building to offer up a staggeringly diverse selection of fresh local produce and carefully crafted delicacies. You’ll want to be at the markets by mid-morning (or even earlier) as the stalls are closed by 2pm. Try something new from one of the stalls for lunch and the odds are you’ll be pleasantly surprised - the market has a stellar reputation and is well attended by tourists and locals alike. 
 
The road to Yosemite
 
The journey from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park will take you about 4 hours, maybe a little less. The overwhelming consensus is that travellers are best off driving directly from San Fran to Yosemite without any major stops along the way. The park itself completely overshadows any features along the way and most people choose to spend as much time there as possible. Groveland, just to the west of the park, does have a lovely nursery/cafe called Mountain Sage where you can grab a bite to eat and even catch some live music if you’re lucky, before heading into the heart of one of the world’s most famous national parks.
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Leg 2 Yosemite National Park to Bakersfield

274 km

Total Distance

03 hrs, 30 mins

Est Driving Time

For lovers of the great outdoors, this leg of the journey is likely to top all the others - and even those who aren’t particularly enamored of nature will almost certainly be awed and delighted by the granitic peaks, plunging waterfalls and high country meadows of Yosemite. This larger than life paradise will astound you with both its beauty and scale, and undoubtedly leave you wishing that you had even more time to spend in this remarkable place.
 
Yosemite National Park
 
The urge to preserve the majestic wilderness of Yosemite Valley, starting with the Yosemite Grant signed by Abraham Lincoln back in 1864, paved the way for both the protection of a much larger slice of the surrounding area and the development of national parks across the United States. Today, the park covers an area of more than 3,000 square kilometres (747,956 acres) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Yosemite is home to a vast array of plant and animal life, including megafauna like American black bears, and mule deer. The park is vast and there is an immense amount to see but most visitors arrive and stay in Yosemite Valley.
 
When it comes to Yosemite National Park RV camping, you need to be extremely vigilant to secure a reservation. Almost all reservations for the months of May through September are filled within minutes or even seconds after becoming available. The best way to increase your chances of getting a reservation is to set your clock accurately and start the reservation process immediately after the sites become available. Some campgrounds operate on a first come, first served basis but even these tend to fill up by noon between April and September. For more information on how to make sure you don’t miss out on a Yosemite campsite, head to the National Park service webpage for camping in the park. Camp 4 is the only campground in Yosemite Valley that doesn’t allow RVs, although there are two others (Tamarack Flat and Yosemite Creek) north of Yosemite Valley at which RV camping is not permitted, and Porcupine Flat and White Wolf only allow smaller RVs: 24 ft and 27 ft respectively.
 
In an awe-inspiring landscape, it takes something truly exceptional to stand head and shoulders above the rest - and Glacier Point more than lives up to that challenge. This is one of the highest points in Yosemite and unsurprisingly is far and away the best lookout spot in the park. Featuring spectacular views of Half Dome (more on that later) and the Yosemite Valley floor, Glacier Point is the one place in Yosemite that you need to make sure you get to. Neither words nor pictures can convey the thrill of looking out across the park from this vantage point; this is something that needs to be experienced for yourself to be truly appreciated. Keen hikers can make the trip on foot, but it’s not an easy climb and does require a fair level of fitness. Don’t worry though: even if you’re not up to a challenging hike, Glacier Point is accessible by roadway so you can drive or take a bus tour to the top for a much more luxurious experience.
 
Another unforgettable hiking experience that has achieved international renown is the Half Dome Cables Route. There’s no tame way to the top here - the hike starts with a challenging ascent along the Mist Trail to Vernal fall that will quickly reveal whether or not you’re up to the task of conquering the rest of the route. Once you come to the base of the dome itself, a steep climb will bring you to the Half Dome Cables: a rock face climbable with the aid of steel cables. This ascent is not for the faint hearted, and the full trip from the valley floor to the Half Dome summit will take most people at least 12 hours. Come prepared with a flashlight, good hiking boots, a whistle and at least a gallon of water. It may not be easy, but conquering this iconic route is immensely rewarding.
 
If there’s one thing that Yosemite is better known for than imposing granite peaks, it is waterfalls. The path to Yosemite Falls is one of the most picturesque trails in the park, and if you’re wondering what to do in Yosemite National Park with the whole family, this is a great place to start. Although the falls are undeniably beautiful, they are matched by the serene forest trail along the way. The smell of the forest alone makes it worth the journey - sugar pines and incense cedars meld their fragrances to create an invigorating aroma unlike any other. Yosemite Falls are also accessible by road, but unless you’re travelling with very young children or someone with a mobility issue, you’d be crazy not to luxuriate in the 3.2 km round trip hike. 
 
When it comes to Yosemite National Park tours, it’s hard to find an experience more unique than a Moonlight Tour. Taking place during the full moon from May through October, this tour takes visitors on a magical two hour open-air moonlit tram ride across the Yosemite Valley floor. See the valley transformed into a silvery wonderland full of stark outlines and secretive shadows, a place heavy with mystery and majesty. The kids might appreciate this one too, as long as they’ve had the chance to rest up during the day. 
 
There are so many Yosemite National Park attractions and the scale of the park is so huge that it’s impossible to cover even a fraction of the amazing things in store for you here. Just remember to get your reservation nailed down as this is the first (and essential) step to experiencing the magnificence of Yosemite. 
 
Fresno
About an hour and a half out of Yosemite National Park down 41, you’ll come across the city of Fresno. This is a great place to break the journey between Yosemite and Bakersfield and has a number of intriguing attractions to tempt you if you wish to stick around for a little longer. 
 
The Forestiere Underground Gardens is a bizarrely beautiful Fresno attraction that’s unlike anything you’re likely to encounter anywhere else in the world. This little slice of the Mediterranean hidden in the heart of Fresno was the creation of one man, Baldassare Forestiere, who crafted a whimsical subterranean labyrinth of patios, courtyards and passageways, populated with fruit trees reaching toward the light provided by openings in the stone.
 
For a slightly more traditional attraction, Fresno Chaffee Zoo allows the whole family to get up close to some of the world’s most fascinating animals. The zoo is home to around 190 animal species including many of Africa’s iconic mammals, ocean loving seals and sea lions, and a host of rare creatures that you may never have seen before. There’s even a section where kids can excavate a full size T-rex and many other fossils. 
 
To focus your mind for the long road ahead, there’s no better in Fresno to visit than the Shinzen Japanese Garden. Complete with Japanese-inspired garden design, an authentic teahouse, meditation area and koi pond, this is perfect spot to center yourself and rediscover a sense of peace. 
 
Leaving Fresno behind, it’s less than a two hour trip down 99 to get to the city of Bakersfield.
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Leg 3 Bakersfield to Las Vegas

459 km

Total Distance

04 hrs, 30 mins

Est Driving Time

This leg of your journey marks a departure from the temperate climes of Northern and Central California, heading into arid Southern California and the sun baked desert of Nevada. This is far from a bad thing though - it means that you’re headed directly for the entertainment capital of the world: the famous, the infamous, the incomparable city of Las Vegas. 
 
Bakersfield
 
The city of Bakersfield lies on the border of Central and Southern California, with its strong reliance on oil and agriculture arguably tipping the balance in favour of the former. The city proudly celebrates its diverse cultural heritage, with Scottish, Greek, Basque and Native American events taking place at least once a year in Bakersfield. For those just passing through, the city has a diverse selection of attractions that are available all year round.
 
Kids will love the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s packed with fascinating exhibits and hands on activities. Young ones will have the chance to marvel at dinosaur bones, shark teeth, ancient petrified trees and even a whale skeleton as well as jumping into activities at the the museum’s Science Discovery Center
 
To get a literal taste of the local culture, try a meal at one of Bakersfield’s Basque restaurants. Noriega’s was founded in the 1890’s and is a stalwart of Basque culture and cuisine - if you’re in the mood to try out something a little different, Noriega’s is a great place to start. 
 
If you’re a fan of country music, don’t miss a visit to the Crystal Palace. Widely praised for its hearty food, family friendly atmosphere and legendary country tunes the Crystal Palace is the perfect place for a fun night out. There’s even a museum attached that chronicles the history of country music in Bakersfield. This attraction is not for everybody, but if you have a little country in your soul you’re bound to love it.
 
The road to Las Vegas
 
Once you leave Bakersfield, there’s not a lot except tiny towns and open country between you and Las Vegas. However, there are a small handful of highlights along the way to break up the trip. Just off of I-15 on the east side of Barstow is Calico Ghost Town, originally founded as a silver mining town, but primarily operating today as a tourist attraction. Gold panning, gunfight stunt shows and mine tours are all on offer - the experience may not be super authentic, but it can certainly be a bit of fun and a welcome respite from the long drive.

Primm is another place to stop along the way. 64 kilometres from Las Vegas, Primm straddles the California / Nevada state line and is primarily known for its three casinos and the fact that it’s a rare island of civilization (and blessed air conditioning) on the way to Vegas. Once you leave Primm behind you, you’ll have less than an hour to go before you reach the crazy, hypnotic, wonderful world of Las Vegas.
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Leg 4 Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

443 km

Total Distance

04 hrs, 30 mins

Est Driving Time

Entering Las Vegas, you’ll soon get the sense that this extravagant fantastical city isn’t an escape from the rest of the world but rather that the outside world is just a dream, and Vegas is the only place that really matters. Such is the power of the entertainment capital of the world. This truly is an extraordinary place, a city that needs to be seen to be believed. Whether you’re on a family vacation or are here to let loose and unveil your wild side, you’ll soon find that Las Vegas is eager to accommodate your every whim. This leg also takes you to visit another amazing man-made attraction: the Hoover Dam.

*If you're thinking of starting out in Vegas, just book a Las Vegas RV rental and strike out for the Grand Canyon!
 
Las Vegas

This island of entertainment and excess set in the middle of a vast desert has been a major tourist attraction for many decades now. Gangster run “gaming” dens, nuclear test sightseeing, casinos so large that they feel like their own little world - Las Vegas has always been a wild and extravagant place, and while atomic bombs no longer detonate in the nearby desert, the city still lives up to its colourful reputation, providing visitors with a whirlwind of experiences unmatched by any other place on earth.
 
While there is far more to Las Vegas than just the casinos, there’s no denying that they are the centerpiece of the city. Not only do they allow everything else here to exist and thrive, many of them are also multifaceted entertainment destinations in their own right. Though gambling is still the lifeblood of Las Vegas, the modern mega-casino is far more than just a gaming venue. Opulent theaters, world-class restaurants, incredible shows, architecture that can defy belief - these supersized entertainment hubs contain an expansive array of diversions to suit almost every taste. 
 
The exact line-up of Las Vegas shows will change depending on when you’re in town but it doesn’t matter when you come to this city - there will always be a stunning selection of live entertainment to choose from. Although you’ll have to check which shows are playing during the dates you’ll be there, there are a few Las Vegas must-see acts which you’ll almost always be able to find here. Cirque du Soleil is one of the most well loved Las Vegas staples: a visually spectacular display of fantastical acrobatics and theatrical extravagance. David Copperfield has been wowing Vegas crowds with his mind blowing feats of illusion for many years now, and the Blue Man Group has become so amazingly popular that they’ve become a worldwide phenomenon.
 
Don’t think that Las Vegas is strictly for adults only though. There are a surprising amount of things to do in Las Vegas with kids, and cash-strapped parents will be pleased to know that many of the attractions that children will love are completely free. Head to Circus Circus Hotel to witness the world’s largest permanent circus, starting at 11am each day in the Carnival Midway. The Lake of Dreams show at Wynn Resort combines water, music, lights and puppetry to create a magical experience every night, and Mirage’s volcano show is truly impressive, featuring fire, fake lava, smoke and immersive sound effects. Each one of these Las Vegas attractions is 100% free to attend.

The pool of children’s entertainment gets even larger if you’re prepared to pay a little. For a night that your kids will remember for many years to come, head to Excalibur to experience the Tournament of Kings. Sit down to a medieval feast and enjoy an elaborate show featuring jousting, tumbling and sword fighting. For a more educational option, try the Discovery Children’s Museum, where science is made accessible to young ones through a range of interactive exhibitions and fun learning experiences. Remember, these are only a small handful of the family friendly entertainment choices that Las Vegas presents.
 
When it comes to where you’ll be staying during your time here, there’s no shortage of RV parks and resorts in this city, running the full gamut from cheap and cheerful all the way to luxurious, but don’t leave your booking till the last minute - these places can still fill up fast, especially during the American summer holidays. 
 
Although you could easily spend weeks in Vegas exploring all that it has to offer (providing your credit card limit was big enough) don’t forget that ahead of you lies one of the great wonders of the natural world - the Grand Canyon.
 
Hoover Dam
 
About 45 minutes out of Las Vegas, you’ll come across the Hoover Dam. This awe inspiring man-made construct attracts nearly a million tourists every year and is essential viewing for those on the road to the Grand Canyon. The sheer scale of this is staggering - at the time that it was built, no one had ever tried to make a concrete structure this large and there were serious doubts as to whether it was feasible. In the end, the dam was completed two years ahead of schedule and its generators still provide power today for both public and private utilities in three different states. 
 
Once you jump back on 93 and leave the Hoover Dam behind you, it’s about a 4 hour journey through Nevada and Arizona to reach what will surely be one of the leading highlights of your trip - the unparalleled vistas of the Grand Canyon.
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Leg 5 The Grand Canyon to Needles

338 km

Total Distance

03 hrs, 45 mins

Est Driving Time

This leg is focused on that most famous of natural landmarks in the US: The Grand Canyon. There's a few hours on the road, sure, but you'll want to spend a few days if possible just taking in the scenic wonder of the canyon.

Grand Canyon

Carved out by the Colorado River over the last 17 million years, the Grand Canyon has attained a depth of more than 1,800 meters and stretches for 446 kilometres. There are few things on earth which can truly be described as awesome, but this is undoubtedly one of them. The Native American Pueblo people considered the canyon a holy site and made pilgrimages to it - it’s not hard to understand why; this is a place that fills visitors with solemn wonder. 
 
There is no bad time to come to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon - it’s accessible all year round, 24/7 - but there are some pros and cons to visiting in different seasons. During winter, travel can sometimes be a little tricky due to snow at high altitude, but the sight of the canyon dusted with snow is truly beautiful. The other upside to visiting in winter is the fact there will be few other visitors alongside you - no need to battle for parking or jostle your way through crowds. Spring and fall strike a nice compromise, however the possibility of reduced visibility and unpredictable temperatures is much higher. Summertime brings the best weather though the heat can sometimes be merciless and the crowds are always massive. If you do decide to go for a summer visit, be sure to book any tours and accommodation well ahead of time - the Grand Canyon National Park gets about five million visitors per year and most of those come to the South Rim in summertime, so you’ll want to start organising things at least 12 months ahead of time. 
 
From a scenic point of view, the best time to visit the Grand Canyon is at sunrise and sunset - the rich colors of a low-sky sun transform the layers of the canyon from breathtaking to magical. You’ll want to get there at least an hour before either one for the best effect. Some of the favoured places for viewing sunrise/sunset at the Grand Canyon are Mather Point, Yaki Point and Hopi Point. The earlier you arrive, the better chance you’ll have of securing a great viewing point. 
 
For those looking to break out the hiking boots and get an up close and personal look at the canyon, there are a selection of day hikes for you to choose from. Rim Trail is by far the easiest to tackle; part of the trail is paved and wheelchair accessible and you can use shuttle buses to customize the length of your hike. A good option for those prepared to take on something a little more strenuous is South Kaibab Trail. Starting just south of Yaki Point, you can reach the trailhead by shuttle bus. This trail offers the best views for a relatively short hike - just be aware that the upper portion of the trail can be extremely icy in winter or early spring. 
 
The Grand Canyon offers more than just amazing views though - there’s a little something here for thrillseekers too. More than 10 different companies offer multi-day raft trips through the Grand Canyon. The duration of the trips on offer varies widely, from one night to fifteen nights - these can be a bit pricey but it is the bucket list opportunity of a lifetime for adrenaline junkies, so for some it will be more than worth it. Rafting in the canyon is an extremely popular activity so make sure to book ages ahead of time to secure a spot on the trip of your choice.
 
If you’re looking for a Grand Canyon RV park, there are a few different campgrounds you can consider. Mather Campground is located within the Grand Canyon Village - you can make reservations up to six months ahead of time, but just be aware that there are no RV hook-ups at Mather. Adjacent to Mather Campground is Trailer Village. This offers paved RV sites up to 50 feet in length with full hook ups. There’s also Desert View Campground, which allows RVs up to 30 feet long, has no hook-ups and is closed over winter.
 
Once you’ve seen your fill of this extraordinary natural wonder, it’s time to head back west along I-40 on a three and a half hour journey to Needles, California.
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Leg 6 Needles to Los Angeles

412 km

Total Distance

04 hrs, 30 mins

Est Driving Time

Most of the time you’ll find that the old saying holds true: it’s about the journey not the destination. On this particular leg however, you’ll find that the destination (Los Angeles) is significantly more interesting than the small towns along the way. It’s not that there aren’t places to stop on your way from Needles to LA, it’s just that they may not be as fascinating as the waypoints on some of the legs of this itinerary. A non-stop drive will bring you to the center of Los Angeles in about four hours but we’d recommend at least stopping off for lunch along the way.
 
Needles
 
Set on the western banks of the Colorado River in the Mojave Desert, Needles serves as a gateway to the Mojave National Preserve. Those curious to get a good look at this desert habitat can venture west of the city to witness historic mining sites and ranching activities or to travel the old Mojave Road as Native Americans, homesteaders and soldiers did before them. 
 
Barstow
 
Two and a half hours west of Needles along the I-40 is Barstow. Keep an eye out for the series of murals that line Main Street, depicting scenes from the city’s past. If you’re planning to stay the night in Barstow, take the opportunity to head to Skyline Drive-In for a nostalgic blast-from-the-past. Drive-in cinemas are almost extinct, so take advantage of this retro experience while you still can.
 
Once you leave Barstow, it’s just two hours to your final destination for this leg - Los Angeles, the City of Angels.
 
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Leg 7 Los Angeles to San Diego

194 km

Total Distance

02 hrs, 45 mins

Est Driving Time

Emerging from the wilderness and tiny towns of the last few days of your journey into the mass of urbanity that is Los Angeles may come as a bit of a culture shock (or a relief, depending on your point of view) but you don’t have to be in LA long to begin to acclimatize to its unique blend of laid-back beachy vibe and big city bustle. Even more visitor friendly than Los Angeles is San Diego, a city that enjoys near constant sunshine and is packed with world-class entertainment opportunities. These two cities offer you the opportunity to end your road trip with a bang or wind down and relax for the final leg of your journey. It’s up to you!

*If, on the other hand, you'd prefer to flip this road trip on its head, it's as easy as picking up your RV rental from San Diego or Los Angeles.
 
Los Angeles
 
The City of Angels first made a name for itself internationally thanks to the wide reaching influence of Hollywood, and the glow of the silver screen still lingers in this city. However, there’s far more to LA than just the booming movie business. This place is bursting with amazing things to see and do, most of which have very little to do with Hollywood attractions. 
 
The fastest way to immerse yourself in LA culture is to visit the city’s beaches. These aren’t merely places to sunbathe and catch a wave or two - the beaches in Los Angeles are small worlds all of their own, displaying a wildly diverse cross-section of humanity. If you’re hunting for the absolute best beach for people watching, a trip to Venice Beach is in order. Walking along the Venice Boardwalk you’ll encounter jugglers and magicians, rollerskaters and cyclists, bodybuilders and gym bunnies - an ever shifting human kaleidoscope. For those hunting for something a little more family friendly than the eccentricities of Venice, Santa Monica is a great option. Head over to Santa Monica Pier where you’ll find Pacific Park, a fun place for kids and adults alike featuring an historic 1920’s carousel, a trapeze school and a solar powered Ferris wheel among many other attractions. The Pier has an exuberant, almost carnival like atmosphere which makes it ideal for a fun family outing. To find a beach that’s more suited to swimming and relaxing on the sand, look no further than Zuma Beach. While the waves may not be quite up to spec for the discerning surfer, they’re perfect for body surfers and boogie boarders. Just be aware that this broad sandy beach often will get fairly crowded on weekends and holidays. 
 
To experience an entirely different side to Los Angeles, you have to visit Huntington Library. Fans of literature and history will have a field day here: the library contains one of the original Gutenberg Bibles (the first books ever to be printed) along with very early copies of both Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s not literary treasures that bring most people to Huntington Library however. The library is surrounded by 120 acres of botanical gardens featuring a multitude of themes - this is the major draw for most visitors to Huntington. You don’t have to be a plant fanatic to appreciate the remarkably diverse beauty of this place. There’s something for everyone here: a Rose Garden, a Japanese Garden, a Children’s Garden, a carnivorous plants wing - walking through the many environments of the Huntington Botanical Gardens will not only leave you in awe of the artisanship and natural beauty on display but also refreshed and invigorated. Of all the things to do in Los Angeles, this is perhaps the best for the soul. 
 
Los Angeles has the largest Latino population out of any city in the United States, numbering 5.8 million, so it’s fair to say that this community has had a huge influence on LA’s culture. To immerse yourself in a fun Hispanic experience, the best place to go is Olvera Street. Many of the houses along this street have survived from the 1800’s, but the buildings aren’t what makes this one of the most iconic Los Angeles tourist attractions. The tree lined open air marketplace along Olvera Street evokes a romantic vision of old Mexico - mariachi bands, roving troubadours and traditional dancers add to the distinctive atmosphere, and the food is mouth wateringly good. Far closer to real Mexican cuisine than anything you’d find most restaurants, these dishes are packed with flavour. If you’re not too big on spicy food though, you may want to proceed with caution. 
 
Of course, no guide to Los Angeles attractions could be complete without a mention of its most famous destination: Disneyland. Although the Disney brand has spread far and wide, with theme parks popping up across the globe, the original park retains a nostalgic charm that the others lack. This isn’t a place for adrenaline-pumping rides so older kids may find something like Six Flags Magic Mountain more to their taste, but younger ones (and even adults) are likely to get caught up in the magic of the place. If you can avoid visiting Disneyland during the summer holidays, it’s best to do so - the weather in Los Angeles is pretty decent all year round, but the crowds that flock to Disneyland in summertime are enormous. A visit during spring, fall or winter means less shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling and far shorter lines.
 
LA is known worldwide as the global epicenter for movie-making, so it would be a shame to miss out on film-related fun while you’re in town. Universal Studios is a mecca for movie buffs - catch a glimpse of props and set from some of your favourite films on their famous backlot tour and throw yourself into the fun side Universal Studios with their theme park rides. A great place to go when you don’t want to spend a lot of money is Universal CityWalk, located just outside Universal Studios. You don’t have to pay a cent to visit and while the shops that line the promenade aren’t really anything special, the street performers that frequent the CityWalk transform this into a prime nightlife location.
 
When you just need a rest from the hectic pace of the big city, Santa Catalina Island is waiting. It’s hard to believe that this island lies within Los Angeles County - a visit here will leave you feeling as if you’re a world away. A small slice of the Mediterranean just off the coast of LA, Catalina is the ideal spot to regain a slower pace of life and luxuriate in the natural charms of Southern California. Bring your snorkel along to spot bright orange schools of Garibaldi, numerous in the Catalina waters, or jump aboard a glass bottom boat tour to see shipwrecks and reefs from an eminently comfortable vantage point. You’re quite likely to spot flying fish too, especially if you take a boat tour of the island - these intriguingly bizarre creatures are a common sight here. To get to Catalina Island, you’ll have to take a ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach or Dana Point.
 
The City of Angels will always have more for you to discover but at a certain point you’ll have to tear yourself away from this place to head toward your very last destination.
 
San Clemente
 
A little under an hour and a half after you leave Los Angeles behind you, you’ll come across the Spanish influenced beach city of San Clemente. If you feel the need to break up the journey from LA to San Diego you couldn’t ask for a nicer place in which to do it. Even if you aren’t planning on spending long in the city, it’s worth heading down to the San Clemente Pier. This is a far cry from from the flashy attractions of Santa Monica Pier, but this peaceful place blessed with sea breezes is the perfect spot to enjoy a bite to eat and catch a bit of invigorating fresh air. Walking San Clemente’s beach trail is another popular activity for visitors and locals alike - pick your own pace, decide how long you want your walk to be and soak up the rays. Starting from the pier, it won’t take you long to come across a range of beautiful beach spots but even if you only have time for a very short stroll this is still well worth it. 
 
From San Clemente it’s only a little more than an hour’s drive down to the sunny city of San Diego.
 
San Diego
 
Described as having one of the two best summer climates in the entire nation, San Diego is a popular vacation destination for both Californian residents and folk from across the country. Even if you don’t arrive in the peak of summertime, you’re likely to hit good weather unless you visit in May or June, when thick ‘marine layer’ cloud cover will often blanket the skies above the city. Not only is the weather here superb, San Diego has taken full advantage of this natural blessing to provide holidaymakers with a huge variety of ways to enjoy their time in the sun.
 
Like many summer vacation spots, San Diego is renowned for its beaches. Many visitors get so caught up in the city’s theme parks and other attractions that its beaches get unfairly overlooked - make sure you don’t do same. Not only can you play San Diego’s beaches, there’s also the chance to stay at one: Silver Strand State Beach is a fantastic place to park up your RV and enjoy seaside views and extremely easy access to the beach. As always, book well in advance to guarantee a place. One of the most acclaimed beaches in San Diego is La Jolla, a place of gentle waves, soft sand and plenty of grassy areas to picnic on. Arguably the best beach to bring the family, La Jolla is perfect for just hanging out and relaxing. If you’re keen to catch some waves, you’ll have more luck at Tourmaline Surfing Park, a San Diego North Country beach that is considered something of a gem amongst locals. There are even designated areas for swimmers and surfers to avoid any hassles or unfortunate accidents. 
 
There’s no denying that the San Diego coastline is stunning, but to actually get a good look at some of the ocean’s most amazing creatures, your best bet is SeaWorld. One of the world’s most well known marine animal theme parks, SeaWorld is famous for its killer whale shows, but they’re far from the only creatures you can see here. Penguins, polar bears, walruses and five species of dolphins are among the many species you can find at SeaWorld. Be sure to check out a few of the spectacular shows on offer - if you plan ahead a little, you might even find yourself diving into experiences like swimming with dolphins. 
 
If you had to pick just one place to visit in San Diego, choosing Balboa Park would be a pretty good way of cheating. This 1,200 acre urban cultural park contains more than a dozen museums, several restaurants, myriad gardens and greenspaces, and the whole of San Diego Zoo. The Zoo itself is home to more than 3,700 animals from 650 different species and is a great place for a family adventure on the wild side. You’ll have the option of taking a guided tour bus, trying out the overhead ‘Skyfari’ gondola lift or simply making your own way around the zoo - either way, you’re sure to be astounded by the diverse menagerie all around you. 
 
Don’t leave San Diego without visiting the USS Midway Museum, especially if military history tickles your fancy. The museum consists of the Midway, America’s longest serving aircraft carrier, in service from 1945 to 1992. A self guided tour narrated by former Midway sailors will lead you through many of the different sections of the ship - there’s even the possibility to climb into the cockpits of some aircraft and try out a flight simulator to get a feel for what it’s like to take off from an aircraft carrier. 
 
San Diego is the final stop on this itinerary but that doesn’t mean that your journey has to end here. The wonderful thing about taking an RV road trip in America is that there’s always somewhere new and exciting to go. Regardless, this journey from San Francisco to San Diego will undoubtedly inspire you to plan many more amazing RV adventures for the future. 
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Recommended Supplies

  • Warm jacket for Alcatraz and walking the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Hiking boots for Yosemite and the Grand Canyon
  • Plenty of water for the desert legs of your journey
  • Bathing suit for the beaches of LA and San Diego

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