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5 Best Road Trips

Los Angeles and California Coast to Yosemite 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.

Get your camera charged for this unforgettable California coast road trip to Yosemite National Park 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. Complete your adventure by exploring two more national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

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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.

Uncrowded Paradise 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.

California’s Central Coast

Seaside Escapes in 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.

Rare Finds in Buellton
Head inland from California’s Central Coast for a stunning drive to Buellton, Calif., in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley for off-the-beaten path experiences that are affordable from blueberry picking to trail rides.

Lompoc’s Top 6
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
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
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.

Stunning San Simeon
If a stroll along a beach to watch elephant seals in the morning and a drive through a zebra herd to tour a castle in the afternoon sounds like a fantasy, think again. In San Simeon, Calif., this is just another day on a perfect weekend getaway.

Grapes of Paso Robles
Driving from the coast, you’ll pass gorgeous rolling golden hills before you get a hint of what’s to come. Stop in Paso Robles for a fantastic dive into California’s laidback wine and food scene where you’ll discover more than 200 wineries and vineyards.

Laid-Back Atascadero
Take the family-friendly Brews and Burger Trail and stroll the parks with your beverage in this community designed with a Utopian vision.

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
In San Benito County, a less-traveled national park, 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 and Wine Flavors in 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.

Yosemite National Park

Cruising Yosemite Valley on a rental bike
Cruising Yosemite Valley on a rental bike (Photo: Yosemite Hospitality)

Pick Your Perfect Yosemite Activities – Climb, Raft, Bike, Ski, Hike
The ultimate guide to activities inside Yosemite National 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.

Best 2-Day Eco-Friendly Yosemite Vacation Itinerary
Experience the best of Yosemite while traveling sustainably by eating locally grown food, staying at eco-friendly lodges and hiking on gorgeous trails.

Trailside Chef Kena Peay
Kena Peay shows us that cooking in the outdoors can be easy and wonderfully gourmet.

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.

Two More National Parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Grant Grove of Giant sequoia trees in Kings Canyon National Park
Grant Grove of Giant sequoia trees in Kings Canyon National Park (Photo: Getty Images)

4 Fantastic Fresno Finds
From underground gardens to a world-class zoo, Fresno is the perfect stop between Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.

Take a Trip Around the World at Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Journey around the world without ever leaving central California. This incredible zoo is home to more than 200 species and has interactive and award-winning habitats that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the California coast, the African savannahs or the Australian outback.

Sequoia National Park, Yosemite’s Southern Neighbor
In Sequoia National Park, wander among the largest living trees on the planet in the Giant Forest, go underground into eerily beautiful limestone and marble caves, hike past wildflower meadows, and splash around meandering rivers and glistening lakes during summer.

Kings Canyon National Park: USA’s Deepest Canyon
See granite domes, giant sequoia trees, a cave and deep canyons in this national park adjacent to Sequoia.

End: Back to Los Angeles