With one week in California, it takes careful planning to fit in the many attractions that the Golden State has to offer. From famous Highway 1 with its scenic views of the Pacific to the sheer cliffs of Yosemite National Park, California’s open roads form the perfect canvass for unforgettable road trips. Beyond these highlights, there are many lesser-known attractions that are equally worthwhile and largely undiscovered by the masses. Discover boiling mud pots in Lassen Volcanic National Park, go sea kayaking off the Channel Islands, or see the tufa towers of Mono Lake. History and culture play a role in each itinerary as well, from hearing stories of the Gold Rush in Old Sacramento to sampling exquisite varietals in the Napa and Paso Robles wine regions. Below are five itineraries that showcase the best 7-day long road trips in California.
The United States Self-Drive Tours & Itineraries
Plan your ultimate the United States road trip
Escape the San Francisco Bay Area with one of these long weekend trips along the coast, into the wine valleys, or up to the Sierras. Enjoy days of hiking coastal trails along windswept bluffs, tasting world-renowned wines, discovering the historical past of California, or hiking up to granite cliffs or among the world's largest trees. Here are five great ways to get out of town this summer and explore more of your extended backyard.
Jump in your car and explore the incredible natural landscapes the American Southwest has to offer. With one week to spend, get away from it all with visits to Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks. Admire expansive views of the Grand Canyon and the unique Antelope Canyon. Hike your way through the incomparable Zion National Park and enjoy the sunset in Bryce Canyon. Reinvigorate your traveling spirit by taking advantage of these week-long trips close to home. These trips are designed from Los Angeles and Las Vegas but can be adapted to other starting points within the area as well.
the United States self-drive itineraries
This coastal road trip is the perfect way to explore the top sights and hidden coasts of Maine, aptly referred to as "Vacationland". The route is quite flexible: you'll follow the bend in the coast from Portland to Camden to Acadia, with opportunities to explore lesser-visited peninsulas along the way. You can stick to the better-known spots (Portland, Camden, Acadia) or spend some time off the beaten path with a kayak ride through a marsh south of Portland, a boat trip to Monhegan island, or a day hiking around Isle Au Haute, part of Acadia National Park.
This itinerary takes you on a journey from Miami to Key West and back. In 7 days, you'll explore the Florida Keys by land and sea and discover the best that these islands have to offer. You'll spend time outdoors each day, but the activities will be varied, relaxing and exhilarating. Get ready to snorkel, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, float, and jet ski your way through this exciting week-long getaway.
This 8-day road trip takes you on a journey to the highlights of the southeastern coast before heading inland to the Appalachian Mountains. You’ll taste true Southern cuisine in Savannah, explore the South Carolina Lowcountry, and hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although this version starts and ends in Atlanta, the route is easily adjusted for a starting point from any city in these three states.
Start in Rocky Mountain National Park to see alpine lakes and towering peaks, then continue to Colorado National Monument to see red rock canyons and the ancestral land of the Ute people. Stop in Gunnison National Park to see the 2,000 ft deep sheer walls of the Black Canyon, then head to Great Sand Dunes National Park to climb 700+ ft tall sand dunes.
Discover the best of the Florida Keys on this four-day road-trip from Miami to Key West. You’ll drive along the scenic Overseas Highway to Key West and back, stopping along the way to snorkel, SUP, and soak up the sun.
This day trip covers approximately 60 miles of scenic, windy roads and leads you to charming small towns, impressive redwoods and Pacific beaches. You’ll also pass through many of the Bay Area's micro climates and see diverse vegetation. Total driving time is a little over 2 hours, but plan for half a day to a full day in order to relax and enjoy the various stops along the way.
This 9-day road trip takes you on an active adventure to Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. You’ll spend the majority of your time enjoying the great outdoors and avoiding the crowds. Although this version starts and ends in Atlanta, the route is easily adjusted for a starting point from any city in these three states. Hike, bike, and drive your way across some of the highlights of the Southeast!
Sample island life on this weekend road trip down the Overseas Highway. In just two days, you'll have the opportunity to snorkel a living coral reef, kayak through mangroves, and feed giant tarpon. You don't need to use your vacation days to experience the Florida Keys.
John Muir called the Sierra Nevada the Range of Light. With this itinerary, you will experience the full majesty of this mountain range, and come to understand and appreciate his sentiment. You'll start from the less-visited Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite and move to the wonder that is Mono Lake on the east side of the mountain range. You'll continue on to explore the alpine lakes in the Mammoth and June Lakes areas. Then, you'll make your way further south to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States, before looping back to the Western Sierras with a stop in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
This 9-day road trip takes you around the state of Florida, visiting the best of both coasts. From America's oldest city to the Great Florida Reef, you'll enjoy a variety of activities on this trip around the Sunshine State, most focusing on its great outdoors. The itinerary starts and ends in Orlando, but the route can be easily adjusted for a starting point from any city in Florida.
Explore the Florida Keys and enjoy all that the tropics have to offer in a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Miami. Snorkel the coral reef, lounge on a white sand beach, and kayak through mangroves on this three-day road trip to Key West.
Covering 1.5 million acres of southern Florida, the Everglades National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, from pythons to panthers. The fragile ecosystem here is protected as an International Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and at only a short driving distance from Miami, a road trip to the Everglades is a great way to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature for the day.
You don’t have to leave the States to find a little slice of paradise. Located off the southern coast of Florida, the Florida Keys are a string of islands brimming with indigenous flora and colorful marine life, serving as a tropical vacation destination not too far from home. Explore the Upper Keys to minimize drive time and maximize the amount of time you spend soaking up the sun.