Day 1: Los Angeles
- Start your road trip in the morning by picking up your rental car and setting out for Los Angeles.
- Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which runs along Hollywood Boulevard and features the stars of some of the biggest names in entertainment history.
- Stop by the TCL Chinese Theatre, a famous movie palace known for its hand and footprint ceremonies.
- Drive down the Sunset Strip, a famous stretch of Sunset Boulevard known for its music scene, clubs, and bars.
- End the day by visiting the Santa Monica Pier, a historic pier that features an amusement park, aquarium, and restaurants.
- Stay overnight in Los Angeles.
Day 2: Venice Beach and Malibu
- Start the day by driving to Venice Beach, a famous beach and entertainment destination known for its Muscle Beach outdoor gym and street performers.
- Walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, a lively promenade with street vendors, artists, and musicians.
- In the afternoon, drive up the coast to Malibu, a scenic beach city known for its beautiful beaches and surf spots.
- Visit the Malibu Pier, a historic wooden pier that offers great views of the ocean and beach.
- End the day by watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from one of Malibu’s many beach parks.
- Stay overnight in Malibu.
Day 3: Santa Barbara
- Drive north to Santa Barbara, a charming coastal city known for its Spanish architecture, beautiful beaches, and scenic mountains.
- Take a stroll along State Street, the city’s main shopping and dining area.
- Visit the Santa Barbara Mission, a historic Spanish mission founded in 1786 and known for its beautiful architecture and gardens.
- In the afternoon, relax on one of Santa Barbara’s many beaches, such as East Beach or Butterfly Beach.
- Stay overnight in Santa Barbara.
Day 4: Monterey and Cannery Row
- Drive up the coast to Monterey, a historic fishing town known for its beautiful coastline and aquarium.
- Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest and most popular aquariums in the world, which features a wide variety of marine life and interactive exhibits.
- Take a walk along Cannery Row, a former sardine canning center turned into a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, and scenic views of the ocean.
- Stay overnight in Monterey.
Day 5: Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea
- Drive along the scenic coastal highway of Big Sur, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world.
- Stop at various overlooks and beaches along the way, such as Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, and Pflegerhorn State Park, to take in the breathtaking views.
- Spend the night in the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a beautiful coastal village known for its fine dining, shopping, and scenic beaches.
Day 6: San Francisco
- Drive north to San Francisco, a city famous for its steep hills, historic landmarks, and cultural diversity.
- Visit popular attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, a iconic suspension bridge that offers stunning views of the Bay Area.
- Take a stroll through Fisherman’s Wharf, a historic neighborhood that features seafood restaurants, street performers, and scenic views of the Bay.
- Visit Alcatraz Island, a former prison turned into a museum that offers tours and exhibits about its history as a maximum-security prison.
- End the day by exploring Golden Gate Park, a large urban park with a variety of gardens.
Day 7: San Francisco
- Start the day by visiting the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, an art museum with a collection that spans from ancient to contemporary art.
- Walk through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, known for its counterculture history and bohemian vibe.
- Visit the Painted Ladies, a row of Victorian houses that are some of the most photographed homes in the city.
- Take a tour of the famous Anchor Steam Brewery, a local brewery that offers tours and tastings of its handcrafted beers.
- End your road trip by shopping and dining in the Union Square neighborhood, a popular shopping and dining destination with a variety of high-end stores and restaurants.
- Return your rental car and fly back home, or plan to extend your trip if you have more time.
Read More: 7 days California road trip itinerary