Two-Week California Road Trip For Nature Lovers (With a Free Planner!)
23 october Two-Week California Road Trip for Nature Lovers (with a Free Planner!) Posted at 08: 19h in North America, United States through Sabina I did my first road trip when I was 5 years old. The adventure took us through the rolling greenery of Colorado with neon lights in Las Vegas. My parents, aunt, […]

Two-Week California Road Trip for Nature Lovers (with a Free Planner!)

I did my first road trip when I was 5 years old. The adventure took us through the rolling greenery of Colorado with neon lights in Las Vegas.

My parents, aunt, uncle, and their furry Cairn Terrier Benny all watched in amusement as I documented the trip on my red plastic camera with the diligence of a war correspondent. I would like to say that a lot has changed now, two decades later. But - for better or for worse - this couldn't be further from the truth.

My family still won't let me get close to the wheel. My camera is always the first item on my packing list. And my attitude to planning still resembles that of a five year old. I just want to spend time in nature, eat a lot of food and not overthink the process.

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Getting the most out of my travels is very important to me and I don't like to visit a new destination without a game plan. But the planning process takes eons. I am so overwhelmed by all the wonderful things that I could do this in less than an hour, I'm in an existential crisis.

What defines me best - a strenuous hike to the top of a towering waterfall or a scenic drive along the sunny coast? What's my real travel style? Who am I? Why was I put on this Earth? I know I know. Again with the hype. But I'm sure many of you can understand. Nowadays, paralysis due to age analysis has become a more common disease than the common cold.

Party life in Las Vegas, 1998.

This is all my roundabout way of explaining how excited I was when I discovered the United States Trip Planner. It's a free (!) Tool created by Brand USA - a destination marketing organization whose goal is to share the beauty of their country with the rest of the world.

Eager to test his abilities, I decided to use the planner to organize a two week road trip to California. It is a travel experience that I have dreamed of for a long time. Just me, a motorhome and a loved one. This is what I learned from my experience ...

How to use the travel planner in the United States

1. Enter your details

All you have to do is type in your destination, the date range, and the number of people accompanying you, if applicable. After that, you have the option to refine your search by choosing your preferred pace and explaining to the virtual robot a bit more about how you like to travel.

As you can see I went with a rather relaxed vibe. I checked “fast paced”, but this is more to test what the tool is capable of than an accurate reflection of how I like to travel in reality. It's about being present rather than spending your time with your eyes riveted on a watch.

2. Refine your results

Alright, moment of truth! When my itinerary first arrived, it already sounded pretty exciting. Death Valley, Yosemite - the planner really understood how I like to travel. But as a first-time visitor to California, I had probably underestimated how much I would like to see some of the most famous, sure-the destinations of the beaten track.

A road trip in California without a night in San Francisco? I do not think so. I got rid of San Simeon, Jenner, Fort Bragg, and Carmel and instead added San Francisco, Big Sur, and three nights in Los Angeles. Am I basic? Wait, don't tell me.

Two-week itinerary in California

Although I added more “mainstream” destinations to my agenda, the planner kept his mountain and beach suggestions as I told him. The website has better listening skills than most people I know, including me. You can access the full itinerary here but for now, here are the highlights.

Death Valley National Park (A night)

Death Valley, despite its morbid name, is a great place to start our epic road trip! It is known for being home to the salt marshes of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. But it's also a dark sky preserve with great stargazing conditions for all of my romantic companions.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (2 nights)

Towering trees, over two hundred species of birds and marble caves… if you love nature, you will love this place. National parks are found in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. One of the peaks, Mount Whitney, is 14,491 feet tall, making it one of the tallest mountains in the United States.

  • Roaring River Falls
  • Zumwalt Meadows Trail

Yosemite National Park (2 nights)

About 4 million people visit Yosemite National Park each year, so it's not exactly a hidden gem. But don't write it down just because you won't admire it in solitude. If the stunning scenery isn't enough to sway you, perhaps the park's Hollywood credentials will - it was used as a filming location for Star Trek V, The Last of the Mohicans, and Maverick.

  • Glacier Point
  • Four Mile Trail

San Francisco (2 nights)

There is much more to San Francisco than the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Whether you want to get lost in an urban jungle or escape to nature, at Planet of the Apes the city is there for you. I am especially interested in the old school cable cars, the Painted Ladies and the hippie district of Haight-Ashbury. Oh, and Silicon Valley!

  • Rockaway Beach
  • Fort Funston National Park

Big Sur (2 nights)

One of the most unforgettable roads - not just in the United States but around the world - Big Sur shouldn't be left out of any California road trip itinerary. I would love to visit many places along the way including San Luis Obispo and the Barbie Madonna Inn, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle dollhouse.

  • Partington Cove
  • Point Sur State Historic Park

Los Angeles (3 nights)

Whether you want to see the rich and famous in Hollywood, play surfing in Malibu, or shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, there is no place like LA. What I like about the City of Angels is its proximity to superb hiking trails. The perfect way to end our nature road trip around the Golden State!

  • Santa Monica Mountains
  • Zuma Beach

Win £ 200 with a comment!

I shared my dream vacation - now I want to hear about yours! For a chance to win a £ 200 Holiday Voucher, simply comment below. Just use the trip planner to plan a trip to your five favorite American destinations and tell me a bit about it.

You can also share this contest on social media using #WanderlustWish for a little more love. I am accepting registrations until November 5, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. UK time.

Disclaimer: This message was brought to you in conjunction with VisitTheUSA but all my thoughts are mine. All California images are royalty free and courtesy of

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