5 Best Road Trips

Los Angeles to Yosemite Coastal Road Trip

From sparkling beaches to fresh food, this 886-plus mile route gives you the best of the Central Coast on the way to Yosemite National Park.


Santa Cruz Island, part of Channel Islands National Park
Taking photos on Santa Cruz Island, part of Channel Islands National ParkVisit Ventura

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Get your camera charged for this unforgettable coastal road trip that begins in Los Angeles. From L.A., head north to the gorgeous but uncrowded Ventura area, home to incredible beaches, small towns and the two ferry locations — in Oxnard and Ventura — to get to Channel Islands National Park. Composed of five islands, this national park offers solitude and stunning wild beauty.

On the mainland, discover authentic towns like Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Santa Maria and Pismo Beach. You’ll discover gorgeous beaches, delicious restaurants, boat tours and wine country.

North of Pismo Beach, visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon before heading to Hollister to explore Pinnacles National Park, home to uncrowded trails, Californa condors and fascinating caves. Just outside the park you’ll find inviting vineyards and historic sites. Afterwards, head to Gilroy, the “Garlic Capital of the World.”

From there, drive east to Yosemite National Park where the cathedral of granite domes leaning over Yosemite Valley will take your breath away. 

Map

Start: Los Angeles

Ventura and Channel Islands National Park

Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park near Ventura
Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island, part of Channel Islands National ParkPhoto by Dan Harding courtesy of Ventura County Coast

Wild Islands at Channel Islands National Park
Take a day to explore the “American Galapagos,” otherwise known as Channel Islands National Park.

7 Sea-Swept Vistas on the Ventura County Coast
You’ll find beauty at these seven places in Ventura County along California’s undiscovered coast, the launching spot for Channel Islands National Park.

Seaside Escapes in Santa Barbara

Hike to Inspiration Point for a sunrise view of the Pacific Ocean near Santa. Barbara
Inspiration PointPhoto by Elliot Hawkey courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Discover these four quintessential Santa Barbara experiences including where to find an inspirational view, where to taste today’s catch and how to step back in time.

Lompoc’s Top 6

La Purisima Mission in Lompoc
La Purisima Mission in LompocPhoto by Cherise Masukawa courtesy of Explore Lompoc

Pronounced “Lom-poke,” this scenic valley town offers a ton to see and do year-round including a mission, local wine, a mural walk, a scenic course and a secluded beach.

Barbecue Central in Santa Maria Valley

Santa Maria BBQ at the Far Western Tavern
Santa Maria BBQ at the Far Western TavernCourtesy Santa Maria Valley

Experience an affordable getaway while enjoying award-winning wine, legendary barbecue and the outdoors. Here are six authentic things not to miss.

California Dreamin’ at Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach Pier
Pismo Beach PierCourtesy of Pismo Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau

Experience the West Coast’s surf culture in this vibrant beach town. Tour the newly opened Pismo Preserve and in winter, see the migration of thousands of monarch butterflies.

Big Sur

The Bixby Bridge on California Highway 1
The Bixby Bridge on California Highway 1Deposit Photos

Tour the Coast Like a Local with Gypsy Guide
On your Big Sur adventure, listen to an entertaining guide in your car that automatically plays while you drive. Download the app at gypsyguide.com/tour/big-sur/.

Pinnacles National Park and San Benito County

Rock formations in Pinnacles National Park
Rock formations in Pinnacles National ParkPhoto by Patrick Rodden courtesy of San Benito County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center

The Pinnacle of a Getaway
An undiscovered national ark, a gorgeous wine trail and historic areas await. Learn more.

Pinnacles National Park Top 6
Here are some of our favorite things to do from gorgeous hikes to exploring a cave.

Local Garlic Flavors in Gilroy

Biking in Henry W Coe State Park near Gilroy, California
Biking in Henry W Coe State Park near Gilroy, CaliforniaCourtesy Visit Gilroy

Not far from the giants of Silicon Valley sits a quaint town named Gilroy where you can drive to friendly boutique wineries, explore a gorgeous children’s theme park and dine in the what is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” 

Deep-Rooted Secret at Gilroy Gardens
When Axel Erlandson died, he left behind his legendary circus trees. Here’s how two strangers saved them.

Try Something New in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite's Half Dome Guest Lounge
Yosemite’s Half Dome Guest LoungePhoto courtesy of Yosemite Hospitality

Year-round Fun in Yosemite National Park
Take a leap and try new activities to explore the park. Which ones have you tried?

5 Famous Viewpoints Close to the Road in Yosemite
Visitors to the park won’t want to miss any of these following heart-stopping vistas, all easily accessible from paved roads throughout the park.

9 RV-Friendly Campgrounds in Yosemite
We’ve rounded up all the information you need to know on Yosemite’s RV-friendly campgrounds. These tips, sponsored by American Coach, can help you decide where to spend the night.

Tour Yosemite Like a Local with Gypsy Guide
On your Yosemite adventure, listen to an entertaining guide in your car.

The Giving Trees
Don’t leave Yosemite without visiting the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

The Living History of Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers
Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson brings to life the stories of the Black soldiers who served as the park’s first rangers.

End: Back to Los Angeles