For road-trip fans, California is a must. From the giant redwoods to the Big Sur, and the Santa Monica Pier to Glacier Point and beyond, California is made for driving.
Centuries-old forests, exceptional coastal highways, and iconic redwood trees are just part of what makes California so ideal for road trips, mainly the travel convenience offered by RVs.
Whether you’re off for a five-day jaunt around Wine Country or you’ve got your sights set on California’s incredible parks, a recreational vehicle is the best way to see California.
From RV insurance to our favorite places to visit, here are some California road-trip RV tips and our 5-day travel itinerary.
Why Should You Be California-RV Dreamin’?
Being road-trip heaven, California’s got every lodging you could want, from hostels in lighthouses and classic roadside motels to glammed-up Airbnb's and luxe urban hotels. But only in an RV can you wake up in California’s most iconic locales, seeing them the way they’re meant to be seen.
Before hitting the gas to your RV, follow these rules:
- Make sure you have all your paperwork (including RV insurance) and performed a safety check before hitting the open road.;
- Book your RV site in advance.
- Give yourself at least one hour before dark.
- Get to know your neighbors and listen to their RV'ing veteran advice.
Whether cooking under thousand-year-old forest canopies in Yosemite National Park or trying to sleep through the roar of the Big Sur ocean surf crashing ashore nearby or winding through the Sierra Nevada’s mountain ascents, RV camping in California is a whole other level.
Where to Go in the Golden State
In California, a road-tripper’s big problem is how to be satisfied without seeing all the things. The third-largest state in the country is so vast that it’s impossible to see it all without clearing your calendar for a year or two.
Being so heavily road-tripped, lots of famous California routes are well-known already. If you’re the Redwoods and wild north coast type, we've got an RV road trip itinerary that takes you from Los Angeles to Crescent City, about 22 hours-return driving time that breaks up nicely over five days. Let's go!
Day 1: San Francisco
Wanting to spend a day at Alcatraz? Or, eat lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf? Well, San Francisco is ideal for your first stop. If you’re a food-and-wine traveler, California’s wine country stretches far and wide and is considered among the world’s 10 best wine-producing regions. Sonoma, Paso Robles, Napa, Santa Ynez, and Happy Canyon are just a few celebrated regions for wineries near San Francisco.
Bring or rent bikes for great cycling routes filled with amazing views, dining, and wine-tasting. Sonoma Wine Country suggests routes from beginners through to expert cyclists, ranging from 5 to 55 miles in length.
Day 2: Yosemite
If nature’s summoning you, then California’s parks are waiting. California might be famous for its beaches, but its parks are ridiculous. Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Bridelveil Fall and the list of just keeps going. After all, Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. There is also an RV Park nearby if you don't want to stay within thhe park itself.
From the 5.9 square miles of Yosemite Valley to driving up Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park has the return to nature you need.
Day 3: Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel
California’s Highway 1 has commanded the world’s attention for over a century. From Monterey's Pebble Beach down the 17 mile drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea (Clint Eastwood put this place on the map) all the way down to Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, any Californian road tripper knows this drive is worth it.
Day 4: Santa Barbara
Whether you think “everything is gorgeous” at Lotusland or you love the big-picture wow of Channel Islands National Park, or you are a shopping fanatic, Santa Barbara's ready to amuse you. "The Queen of Missions", State Street, Sterns Wharf, and so many other things make Santa Barbara a riders-lover’s paradise.
Day 5: Los Angeles
From yoga classes at Runyon Canyon Park to riding a solar-powered ferris wheel at Pacific Park, Los Angeles features a little of everything. Participate in some people-watching at Venice Beach or walk the pier in Santa Monica, Los Angeles is more than hot spot for famous celebrity sitings.
Finer Points: RV Insurance & More
With nearly 165,000 square miles to explore, hundreds of RV parks are vying to host you. The savvy drivers know where to RV-park “free,” too, but there are laws about when and where you can camp. Whether you seek the local lowdown from a rental agency or your RV insurance provider, make sure you learn the basics of RV practices and where you can camp.
If you don’t have an RV insurance provider, it’s wise to get one. RV insurance is similar to car insurance, but different risks and costs are involved. For instance, a 33-foot Winnebago’s insurance costs more than a pop-up trailer. Make sure you get the right coverage for your RV and the trip you have in mind, so you camp with confidence.
When road-tripping in California, it’s critical to keep two things full – your gas tank and your fridge. Gas disappears faster in RVs than in cars, and despite more than 39 million people in California, long fuel-less stretches abound in its rugged wilderness. Staying stocked up on food is smart for similar reasons. Besides, it’s nice to pull up to a random lake and fry up a great meal.
And, in much of California, RVs can handle year-round travel. Winter storms, though, can wreak havoc on its great roadways. Stay alert for road closures in the off-season, because, hey, turning around an RV on a cliff-top highway can get complicated.
What Are You Waiting For?
Road-tripping California is a must-have life experience, no matter who you are. Doing it in an RV just makes it all the better. With proper RV insurance and a little practice, even novice RV-drivers can enjoy California’s unforgettable landscapes.
Whether counting endless stars in the Yosemite summer night sky or watching the watery horizon of the Pacific as another day melts away, life is different on RV time. Isn’t it time you experience RV time in California?