If you’re looking to plan the ultimate California coast road trip we’ve been everywhere and have some ideas for you! Here’s where to stay and what to see.
I was lucky enough to grow up on the California coast and have visited almost every theme park and National Park around. Now that I have children we do a lot of traveling and have many places we’d recommend to others when they are planning the ultimate California coast road trip! This and many other family travel resources are listed on our road trip blog post for you to enjoy. 😉 This post was written by me through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Howard Johnson Hotels. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My kids are old enough now to travel a good 8 hours a day, and big enough to love any and all roller coasters too so we try to mix it up a little bit when we are traveling. Including some trips to National Parks as well as theme parks is fun for everyone, and California has quite a few of them all so we’re never short of ideas when planning our next vacation.
Here are some great stops when planning your ultimate California coast road trip:
- San Francisco – Never short of things to do, this big city is full of fun things for families! From an aquarium, shops, great restaurants, trolley rides, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island….you could spend several days here and never get bored. If you’re traveling with kids I find it’s important to find a great place to stay and in between your busy days so you can take a rest or just have a down day where you enjoy the pool and one another.
- Monterey – They have a great aquarium there and it is a beautiful area! It isn’t too far from San Francisco so it’s a great “next destination” if you’re heading that direction. There are many locations so you’re sure to find an HoJo hotel when traveling the California coast which is nice and they’re affordable for families too…win! 😉
- San Simeon – Such a cute city and Hearst Castle is just amazing! I have been there twice and taken two of the three tours they offer and each one is unique. A must see.
- National Parks – If you want to head inland for a few days I suggest visiting Sequoia or Yosemite, they are amazing! We like to include a new National Park visit in each of our long road trips if possible. You can head over to that HoJo location and then head back to the coast for a few theme parks after that!
- Universal Studios – Fun place to visit in the Los Angeles area that is full of memorabilia from your favorite movies, World of Harry Potter, and the behind the scenes tour is a must!
- Aquarium of the Pacific – This is a fabulous aquarium right on the water in Long Beach. It is huge and has an outside as well as an inside area with touch pools and more. Great restaurants within walking distance too.
- The Queen Mary – While you’re in Long Beach you’ve got to take a tour of this massive boat! They have different events on it throughout the year as well so check their schedule before you visit and see if there’s something special happening.
- Knott’s Berry Farm – Remember I said I love incorporating theme parks, well this is a great one for little ones as well as those who love a REALLY fast roller coaster. They have great live shows too which I appreciate, involve the audience in their shows, and a Western theme that makes it fun and different.
- The beach – Well we can’t forget that when planning the ultimate California coast road trip! There are so many beaches we love but Huntington Beach is a great one with a pier and a restaurant at the end of it which is fun to experience. San Clemente beach and Mission Bay in San Diego are wonderful too, but really you can’t go wrong at any of them. Just bring some chairs, buckets, sunscreen, and relax for the day.
- Sea World – I don’t know if I would define it as a theme park but they do have a few rides now, like Manta, that are quite fast and my kids can’t get enough of it. Scheduling a behind the scenes tour when you get there is a must too! Getting up close with the animals is a once in a lifetime experience that no child, or adult, will ever forget.
While you’re in San Diego on your California coast road trip there are so many other great places to visit such as:
- Scripps Aquarium
- LEGOLAND – and their waterpark
- Children’s Museum
- Mission Bay
- The Flower Fields
- USS Midway
- Tide Pools
This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the 20% off discount on 2+ nights at another Howard Johnson location too! Not only does that discount make it affordable but you get free WiFi and breakfast for everyone during your stays…something we always look for.
I hope we gave you a few ideas that help with your plans. There are so many great places I couldn’t list them all but these are a few of our favorites! Wherever you go just have fun and make lots of memories together. 😉