Fun Stops for a California Road Trip

California is a popular tourist destination due to its size, reputation for warm temperatures and sunshine, and the sheer number of things to do. In fact, there’s so much to do that planning a road trip can be a struggle. You may be overwhelmed by all of the exciting options, which is exactly why we’re here to help with that.

We’ll cover everything from the fun to be had at Lake Tahoe to some of the most beautiful beaches that are definitely worth your time. Before you start packing the car, make sure you brush up on California’s child car seat laws to make sure your little ones are safe and secure in the back seat.



We all knew it would be here, so let’s get it out of the way first: Disneyland. Not to be confused with Disneyworld down in Florida, Disneyland is a large theme park with a ton of different Disney-themed rides, restaurants, and attractions to explore. They also offer themed hotels and resorts as well so you can stay near the park surrounded by your favorite characters. 

Everything from Toy Story to Frozen has attractions here. You could walk around and meet your favorite characters, such as Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Elsa and Anna from Frozen, or even Mickey Mouse himself! There are also tons of rides for all ages and shows too. 

Your older ones could enjoy the thrills of the Incredicoaster while your young children enjoy a ride on the Astro Orbiter. There are also plenty of shows for all ages and seasons. If you or your children enjoy Disney movies and shows, then you’ll have a good time here.

Lake Tahoe

Fun Stops for a California Road Trip 1

Found on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is quite the sight to see. The beautiful blue waters are surrounded by tall peaks and are teeming with wildlife. 

You may be excited to take a mountain hike or to ride your bike on a trail, but you could also take advantage of the Tahoe Via Ferrata which is a climbing activity the whole family can enjoy. You could also enjoy floating down the Truckee River or paddling in a kayak if you prefer to enjoy water activities. Winter activities such as ice skating and skiing or snowboarding are also available to those who love flying down the snowy mountainsides. 

When lunchtime rolls around, you could pay a visit to River Ranch Lodge which is a tavern and an inn or you could explore the small towns nearby to see what they have to offer. There’s lots of fun to be found here for nature lovers. You might even catch a glimpse of a bear!

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

There’s a lot to talk about with Pinnacles National Park—while all of the activities we’ve discussed so far take place above the surface, spelunkers may enjoy the natural wonders found below specifically in Bear Gulch Cave and Balconies Cave. Be aware that Bear Gulch Cave is split into two sections that are opened and closed seasonally, so make sure to research online before going to ensure it’s open when you go to visit. 

This is so you can still enjoy the cave while also protecting the local bats who roost here from being bothered as they rest and raise young. Pinnacles National Park doesn’t just have caves. You can go hiking on one of the trails, enjoy a camping trip, and just admire the park’s natural beauty that was formed millions of years ago from volcanoes. 

This park is one of a few in California that work together to protect wildlife, such as the majestic California Condor, so you may get a glimpse of some wildlife as well. From frogs in caves to condors soaring above the hiking trails, there’s a lot to discover and enjoy at Pinnacles National Park.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

A lot of fun can be had in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier may be the first thing you consider as the Ferris wheel draws you towards the hoys it has to offer. There are parks and playgrounds to relax in while your children run around and play in the sunshine. 

You and your older ones may even decide to try their hand at surfing and stop by the surf school or to partake in a bike tour. You may even decide to go fishing. Of course, the pier also has a lot of fun activities and rides to enjoy, from the Ferris wheel that looms overhead to the carousel, and even the aquarium can be found here. 

The pier isn’t all there is to Santa Monica either—you could enjoy the shops and restaurants dotted around the city or simply soak up some sun on the beaches. A fun place to stop might be Annenberg Community Beach House to enjoy the activities on offer. 

From the thrill of a rollercoaster to the relaxation brought by fishing, the range of activities available in Santa Monica means there’s something for the whole family to appreciate.

Beautiful Beaches

California Road Trip

Santa Monica Beach is bustling and beautiful, but it isn’t the only beach to explore in California. There are quite a few one-of-a-kind beaches to visit, and a perfect example of this is Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach. There once was an old trash dump that contained small shards of glass, and, over time, the ocean smoothed this glass down and made the beach what it is today. 

Keep in mind that it is against the law to take any of this glass home with you, so just try to take some pictures instead. You may also be interested in exploring The Crater found near Sand City, where the sand dunes leave a lot of this beach looking like a deep valley. The dunes can be a bit steep, but it’s the perfect place to enjoy a natural slide. Just try not to bring any sand home with you!

Enjoying Your California Road Trip

We’ve only scratched the surface of all of the fun California has to offer—the available activities will vary based on the location of the season, but there’s always something to enjoy here. We hope we helped you plan your next California trip and that it’s as fun as you hoped for!

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