The Road Trip to Adventure
Even if you’ve lived in Southern California your whole life, there’s a good chance you haven’t explored every hidden gem the Golden State has to offer. When people travel, they typically skip the off-the-beaten-path destinations. By going on a road trip, you give yourself an opportunity to say, “Wow, I can’t believe this place actually exists!” We invite you to learn more about the beaches, campgrounds, mountains, and lakes of California so you can get the most out of your last few weeks of summer. Adventure awaits!
When warm weather hits, the beach is definitely on everyone’s mind. The best part of living in 92024 is the ease of packing the car with beach gear and heading up or down the coast to your favorite “edge of the continent” bliss. From Santa Barbara to San Diego, each beach area along our coast has its very own charm. These beaches and their communities are varied enough to have appeal for just about everyone. We offer a unique perspective of what you, your family, or your friends have in store if you decide that the beach is the perfect destination or pit stop for your road trip.
Just 22 miles off the Southern California coast is Catalina Island, a little haven for getting away from the masses. Shop for trinkets, snorkel, take a glass-bottom boat ride, camp, or just enjoy a good book on the beach.
Carpinteria is a small beach town between Santa Barbara and Ventura. The Carpinteria Beach, known as the “World’s Safest Beach,” has been rated the #1 swimming beach in California, due mostly to its southern exposure and its protection by the Channel Islands.
Laguna Beach is known for having the most beautiful beach coves on the Southern California coast. Laguna is also full of excellent and varied restaurants and art galleries. The annual art festivals draw art lovers from all over every summer. Check out the Sawdust Art Festival’s Annual Summer Show through Sept. 3.
North of downtown San Diego is this jewel of the coast, La Jolla. There are gorgeous views everywhere you look and the weather is sublime. La Jolla Cove has boundless opportunities for sensational snorkeling while the Shores allow for surfing lessons and fun for all ages.
Long Beach has the aquarium, the Queen Mary, Little Naples with its gondolas, ferries to Catalina, an art museum, and Rainbow Harbor with its waterfront restaurants.
Much of Malibu’s coastline is covered with the famed beach bungalows along with the Zuma, Paradise Cove, and Malibu Beach – just to name a few of the renowned public beaches.
Manhattan Beach is in Los Angeles County near the LAX airport. The beach is wide and sandy and the boardwalk is full of joggers, bikers, and other beach-goers.
Oceanside has lots of beach, more reasonably priced hotels, and a harbor for boating or waterfront dining.
San Clemente has a wonderful State campground and a small town atmosphere near the beach. Trestles Trail is a must for the hiking enthusiast.
A cozy beach town beautifully nestled between the coast and the mountains. Visit the famed restaurants and take in the Spanish-Mediterranean architecture. As you wander down the streets of Santa Barbara you might bump into well known filmmaker Bruce Brown – whose cult classic, The Endless Summer, put surfing on the map – or 10-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater.
Santa Monica has beaches, an amusement pier, great shopping, world class hotels and restaurants, and close proximity to UCLA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and LAX. Visit the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport.
Ventura is a laid-back little beach town with a nice boating harbor and wide sandy beaches. Channel Island boat tours take off from Ventura. Marine Park is also a great place to bring kids and kites. The Ventura Beach pirate ship is a must!
Camping can offer you complete freedom when choosing a holiday. We spotlight some camp locations that are ideal for families, first timers, location seekers, and adventurers. You can get away to the beach, escape to the mountains, or take time out by the lake – there will always be a natural location to suit everyone. Forward-planning and gathering the necessary equipment will ensure that your trip is enjoyable. Visit www.reserveamerica.com and www.parks.ca.gov for tips and advice for your camping road trip.
Anderson Valley, CA
Hendy Woods State Park
In summer, kids spend whole days ankle deep in the Navarro River, which flows calmly over fist-sized stones through a redwood grove. Gardens and picnic areas at the Anderson Valley wineries are a short drive away. Stop by the Philo Apple Farm for a wander in the orchard and some fresh juice from the honor stand.
Near Santa Barbara, CA
Carpinteria State Beach
Kids can’t object to a lack of TV if they’re plopped onto a mile-long beach. Reserve early (up to seven months ahead) for the popular Santa Rosa beach row sites, then spend the weekend swimming, surf fishing, and exploring tidepools.
Orange County, CA
Live Oak Grove Campground at Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park
Camp out under the oaks and sycamores in the Santa Ana Mountains without relinquishing life’s little necessities – like flush toilets. Get oriented to the great outdoors on the Sunday morning ranger walk. The 2.5-mile East Ridge Trail makes a great beginner’s hike.
Near Santa Cruz, CA
New Brighton State Beach
Set on a pine-shaded bluff above an endless white beach, New Brighton’s 100-plus sites get snapped up by those itching for a beach weekend without the expensive nightly tab. The beach is the real draw and the hot showers are inviting, but another bonus is that if you forget your matches or just don’t feel like cooking, you can easily grab takeout in town, a five-minute drive away.
Eastern Sierra, CA
Big Pine Creek Campground
With a postcard setting at the base of three mountains – the Thumb (13,356 feet), Middle Palisade (14,012 feet), and Norman Clyde Peak (13,855 feet) – this camp is an ideal hub for hikers and climbers. Experts head for the Palisade Glacier – the southernmost in the U.S. – while the less ambitious bask around the waterfalls and wildflowers close to camp and the series of glacial-blue lakes beyond.
Near Lake Tahoe, CA
Island Lake, Desolation Wilderness
A great choice for the first-time backpacker, with moderate effort required for spectacular views in the end. Pack your stuff in after three miles to overnight at Island Lake beneath soaring Mt. Price. The dramatically stark granite terrain dotted with shock-blue lakes is the definition of high country. Next morning, you’re set to explore the lakes and passes higher up the slope – and out of day-hiker range.
Don’t Leave Home Without Your APPS
Provides the latest gas prices, maps, directions, hotel details, and bookings.
Listen to a best-seller anytime, anywhere.
Find the cheapest gas on the go for free.
Hotels give last-minute deals on their unsold rooms with discounts up to 70%. Book the deals easily and securely on your smartphone.
iEXIT INTERSTATE EXIT GUIDE
iExit tells you what’s coming up in real time when driving on the interstate. Select your favorite chains and it will tell you which upcoming exits have them. Select the Deals tab and see which upcoming exits have chains currently running promotions.
LICENSE PLATE TRAVEL GAME
With this app, you can play continuously throughout your trip, as the app logs all your finds and keeps score – one point for plates already found and two for new plates.
ROAD TRIP BINGO HD
The app features more than 40 colorful road-trip-themed bingo squares, including road signs, animals, vehicles, street marks, and mountains.
No need to burn dozens of CDs or deliberate over the perfect iPod playlist. With Spotify you have an infinite jukebox at your fingertips. You can search as you go, make playlists beforehand, or snag other Spotify members’ playlists.
YPmobile products turn your mobile device into a powerful local guide that brings you everyday savings.
If you’re like most American families, summer vacation usually means you’re heading to the beach, amusement park, or maybe even a big-city adventure. But don’t overlook the fun waiting to be had at our local mountain and lakes. These family-friendly summer playground destinations are just an easy drive up north.
Summertime in Big Bear often comes early and stays late – at 7,000 feet and bursting with sunshine, the warm and welcome mid-season rain showers, and extraordinary nighttime skies are just some of the natural amenities of a road trip to Big Bear. The sunshine rays are more intense than at sea level, shining through the mountain’s clean, light air, and low humidity in probable 80- to 90-degree daytime highs. Whether you’re looking for an adventure on a jet ski, family fun on the alpine slides, or just want to chill on a pontoon, Big Bear has it all. Visit www.bigbear.com for information on upcoming events.
Lake Tahoe is a popular summer refuge from summer heat and an enormous draw to boaters, fishermen, water skiers, and adventurers. The pleasant daytime temperatures and very relaxing and casual environment draws the summer crowd. With the infinite things to do during the summer, from basking on the beautiful beaches to hiking or camping within the Tahoe Basin, there is certainly something for everyone. Be sure to ride to the top of the mountain on the Heavenly Mountain Gondola, go rafting on the Truckee, take in a boat cruise, and check out the Lake Tahoe Summer Music or Shakespeare Festivals. Visit www.tahoesbest.com for a local connection with deals and packages.
In the winter, Mammoth Lakes is the hot spot for the Southern California ski crowd. Skiers stake out a condo or hotel during the season to reap the rewards of abundant snowfall on the majestic mountain. But ask these same people if they’ve visited Mammoth during the summer and the answer will likely be “no.” And that is what makes Mammoth the perfect summer getaway, free from tourists and full of hiking, fishing, biking, and outdoor fun. Mammoth is a warm weather playground, with its nine profoundly blue lakes, plus another 100 lakes covering the surrounding countryside. The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area becomes Mammoth Mountain Bike Park in the summer and boasts over 70 miles of trails with access to chairlifts and shuttles. The Panoramoic Gondola tops at 11,053 feet for those who want to watch the ambitious bikers zoom down the slopes. Visit www.mammothmountain.com for summertime adventure guides.
One of America’s favorites, Yosemite Park, is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, one can find grand meadows, deep valleys, gigantic ancient sequoias, a plethora of wilderness areas, and much more. The eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park at Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) is a quick 30-minute drive north of Mammoth on Highway 395. Visiting Yosemite National Park during the summer will guarantee access to the entire park via car, as the weather has warmed and snow has completely melted. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park, so be sure to scope out your park reservations well in advance of your trip. Plan your Yosemite road trip by visiting www.yosemitepark.com.