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Ultimate Texas to California Road Trip Itinerary

Welcome to our Texas to California drive trip planner!

If you want to have an epic adventure in the American Southwest, then consider the family road trip from Texas to California. 

You will be seeing some of the most stunning attractions in Southwest USA including White Sands National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park before enjoying the pristine beaches of the West Coast. 

This amazing road trip is for those who love adventure and the open roads. 

You will be passing through 4 states and travel over 1500 miles. You will be able to see amazing cities like San Antonio, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. 

You can do this road trip via two amazing routes: Southern route goes via I-10 or via Route 66, the Mother Road. There are plentiful attractions on both the roads. 

Our recommendation? Plan a round trip and drive on both these iconic roads. 

Take the I-10 and enjoy attractions like El Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, and Palm Springs. 

Also Read: Texas to Colorado Road Trip Planner

While returning, take Route 66 and see Flagstaff, Cadillac Ranch, and Texas’ very own Palo Duro Canyon. 

This is a road trip for those who love driving. You will see nothing but the vast desert landscape and lonely roads for several days. 

Finding California’s vibrant cities at the end of the road is a delightful surprise. 

Use our road trip planner to plan this amazing road trip and make memories of a lifetime with your loved ones. 

You can also use this planner to plan a California to Texas road trip

Where to begin Texas California road trip?

If you’re living in Texas,  then you can begin your Texas to California Drive anywhere near the four major cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.

We have done this from Houston and have several friends who have been on a road trip from Austin to California and had fun. 

If you are flying into Texas for the road trip then consider either Dallas or Houston both of which are major airports and well-connected to different destinations.

Also Read: Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Best Time to go on the Texas California Road Trip

This road trip makes an excellent winter family vacation since the Southwest states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have a very mild winter. 

Spring or fall are also good seasons to go on this road trip. In these seasons, you can plan a camping road trip from Texas to California. 

We do not recommend planning this road trip during the hot summer months as the heat in western Texas, deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, as well as Southern California is very extreme.

Texas to California road trip: Along I-10

The interstate connects these two states and has plenty of attractions along the way. This is also the best way to see the many national parks between Texas and California. 

Houston

Houston is one of the best cities to begin the Texas to California drive. 

It has plenty of things to do with something for everyone. Most visitors love the Houston Museum District, which features world-class museums like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum. 

The National WWII Museum is also worth checking out if you want a taste of American history in Texas.

Houston is also a diverse city. Whether you’re looking to eat some authentic Mexican food, or enjoy the exciting nightlife scene, Houston has it all!

Explore the city’s beautiful historic neighborhoods, or see the Astros play at Minute Maid Park. End your day with a trip to the Space Center.

If you are from Houston, then head directly to West Texas but if you are new to H-Town, then definitely explore a bit before driving west on the I-10.

Johnson Space Center in Houston
Johnson Space Center in Houston

San Antonio

Next up on the Interstate is the Alamo City. 

San Antonio is a beautiful, historic city with plenty to see and do. Visitors from all over the world are drawn to its rich culture and exciting attractions. 

From dining on the River Walk to taking in some of the best live music shows in Texas, there are plenty of things to do for those visiting San Antonio.

The Alamo, one of San Antonio’s most famous landmarks, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Other popular attractions include one of the world’s largest churches, Basilica Minore de San Fernando, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park.

San Antonio Riverwalk
San Antonio Riverwalk

Optional: Marfa

Near Fort Stockton on the I-10, take a detour to visit Marfa, West Texas. 

Marfa is a small town in the far west Texas desert. It has a bohemian vibe and some of the quirkiest and most unique things to do. 

Spend an afternoon browsing through the art galleries or shop for authentic souvenirs in the antique stores. 

Take a scenic drive around Marfa and admire the breathtaking scenery that surrounds this colorful town. If you are lucky, you might also be able to see the mysterious Lights of Marfa. 

Optional: Fort Davis

Fort Davis, TX is the perfect place to visit with your family on a Texas California road trip. 

You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the town and take in some Texas history. 

There are plenty of things to do in the town, from fishing at Lake Fort Davis to checking out the many museums and historic sites. 

Astronomy lovers can head over to the McDonald observatory to learn about the dark skies and view celestial bodies from the telescopes.

Military post ruins at Fort Davis, Texas
Military post ruins at Fort Davis, Texas

Optional: Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is one of the hidden gems in the US. 

Easily accessible from the Interstate, Big Bend is one of the most remote and least visited national parks in the United States. 

Its expansive, rugged landscape of the Chisos mountains and cacti filled desert enchants all visitors.

The scenic landscape is home to diverse wildlife and has plenty of hiking trails for nature lovers.

The best way to experience Big Bend is on foot or bike, so pack your gear and get ready for a memorable adventure!

Big Bend National Park View of Chisos Mountains at twilight in Texas
Big Bend National Park View of Chisos Mountains at twilight in Texas

El Paso

El Paso is one of the most underrated cities in Texas. The border town has many cultural and historic attractions as well as culinary delights. 

Some of the top attractions in El Paso include the El Paso Museum of Art, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, and Fort Bliss Historical Society & Museum.

Visit the Franklin Mountains State Park located in the heart of the city. Take the scenic drive to enjoy the vistas from above or go hiking to enjoy the beautiful landscape. 

El Paso, Texas Downtown Skyline
El Paso, Texas Downtown Skyline

White Sands National Park 

White Sands National Park, located in Alamogordo, New Mexico, is a national park with an abundance of natural beauty. This park is famous for its gypsum deposits. 

The area features a dry climate and large expanses of white sand dunes that seem to stretch on for miles. 

Visitors can find many things to do at the national park, making it a must stop of your road trip. 

From hiking in the beautiful landscape to camping under the stars and from sledding down the dunes to scenic drives, there’s something for everyone at the park!

Barbecue and rest area at White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Barbecue and rest area at White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Optional: Carlsbad Cavern National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico is an amazing natural wonder. 

This UNESCO Site is on the top of every tourist’s bucket list, because it offers amazing opportunities for exploration and discovery.

The park has been inhabited for over 11,000 years by Native Americans and is home to some of the largest caves found on Earth. 

On a cave tour, you can see striking geological formations including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Tucson

Tucson, located on the I-10, is a great destination to rest and spend some time on the road trip. This beautiful city is full of Arizona’s iconic natural wonders and over 200 years worth of history.

From hiking at Sabino Canyon to shopping along Fourth Avenue; the city of Tucson has a lot to offer in terms of things to see and do. 

Visitors can enjoy the hiking trails in the Catalina Mountains or the art galleries downtown.

For an amazing outdoor experience, then head out to Kartchner Caverns State Park. Here, visitors can enjoy the beautiful caverns in the world on a guided tour.

An overlooking view of Kartchner Caverns National Park, Arizona
An overlooking view of Kartchner Caverns National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park

One of the popular national parks in Arizona, Saguaro is a great place to explore on the California road trip from Texas. 

The national park has two districts. The Tucson Mountain District is located to the west of Tucson and has over 20 miles of trails. 

The Rincon Mountain District with its expansive views and dramatic landscapes, is located to the east of the city.

Visitors can take a scenic drive through the park, hike through the giant Saguaro cacti, or go bird watching!

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park

Phoenix

Phoenix is a city of sunshine and culture – a great place to spend a couple of days on your road trip. 

The most popular things to do in Phoenix include the museums, art galleries, and a vibrant dining scene. 

The Arizona Science Center has over 100 interactive exhibits and is a favorite with families. The Heard Museum is very popular with art lovers.

The desert has many scenic drives and adrenaline rushing attractions for outdoor lovers. 

To beat the heat, visit Slide Rock State Park near Sedona. It has lots of splashing fun, natural rock slides, and hiking trails.

Slide Rock State Park, Arizona
Slide Rock State Park, Arizona

Scottsdale

The city of Scottsdale, in the Sonoran Desert, has the perfect blend of high-end style and casual comfort. 

It’s known for its beautiful outdoor activities, world-class golf courses, upscale shopping malls, art galleries, and amazing restaurants.

Old Town Scottsdale is a charming place to take a stroll and people watch. 

Architecture lovers can visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home of Taliesin West on a guided tour and admire the stunning design. 

Also Read: Scottsdale Arizona Babymoon Guide

Frank Lloyd Wrights Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona
Frank Lloyd Wrights Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona

Joshua Tree National Park

Finally, the I-10 will lead you to California. Be sure to stop at Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs. 

The vast natural beauty of Joshua Tree can be enjoyed by hiking, scenic drives, camping, and rock climbing within the park. 

Visitors love the unique environment of the park and the vegetation that grows here including the Joshua tree, cholla cactus, ocotillos, etc. A variety of wildlife also calls the park home.

The park is a great place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, history buffs and anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Cottonwood Visitor Center which marks the southern entrance of the park is located close to the Interstate, making the park very accessible on a Texas California road trip.

Also Read: Joshua Tree Itinerary

Camp site with caravans at Joshua Tree National Park, California (1)
Camp site with caravans at Joshua Tree National Park, California (1)

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is one of the most popular destinations for tourists to visit in California. 

The city has plenty of attractions including relaxing spa resorts, world class museums, designer shopping, architecture tours, and restaurants. 

The dry desert climate makes it easy to enjoy outdoor activities like golfing, ATV riding, hiking, and mountain biking year round. 

Make sure to try the local favorites of date shakes and cactus fries on your visit.

Also Read: Best Things to do in Palm Springs

Palm Springs
Palm Springs, California

Cabazon

Cabazon is an essential road trip stop because of its dinosaurs! 

At this unique destination in Southern California, you will find two life-size statues of dinosaurs – one Apatosaurus and one T-Rex!

Kids love playing under the prehistoric beasts and climbing on their legs. 

There is also a gift shop with many dinosaur souvenirs, picnic tables for visitors, and a ticketed area with many more dinosaur attractions. 

City of Cabazon
City of Cabazon

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States and also one of the most populous.

This city has tons to offer from world-class museums to incredible white sand beaches and from high end shopping to movie studio tours. 

The city is also known for its ethnic diversity and this diversity can also be seen in it’s cuisine. Visit the Mexican taquerias or sample some fresh seafood, LA is heaven for foodies. 

Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is the perfect place to end your road trip. 

The city is a popular tourist destination, with its miles of sandy beaches and the iconic Santa Monica pier. 

The pier is home to the famous Pacific Park amusement park and has thrill rides, games, and food stands. 

The oceanfront in Santa Monica is one of America’s best streets. It has souvenir shops, restaurants, and entertainment options like the 3rd Street Promenade Theatre. 

Outdoor lovers can explore the canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains while families can watch fishermen pull in their daily catch. 

End your trip over cocktails at one of the many outdoor bars overlooking the ocean and enjoy the West Coast’s legendary sunsets. 

The Santa Monica Pier at night, in Santa Monica, California
The Santa Monica Pier at night, in Santa Monica, California

Texas to California road trip: Along Route 66

Route 66 is the most famous highway in America. 

It crosses eight states and has some of the most iconic destinations along its path, from Chicago to Santa Monica. 

The route from Texas to California has many tourist attractions and nostalgic icons like abandoned ghost towns, vintage gas stations, and wigwam motels.

Historic Route 66 Midpoint Sign in Adrian, Texas
Historic Route 66 Midpoint Sign in Adrian, Texas

Dallas

Dallas, Texas is a city that’s hard to beat. 

The people here are friendly, the food is great and there’s always something happening in Dallas. 

This bustling, fast-paced city has plenty of sights to see and things to do. 

The Arts District is home to premier museums including the Crow Collection of Asian Art, Nasher Sculpture Garden, and Dallas Museum of Art, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Other neighborhoods including Deep Ellum, Bishops Arts District, and Downtown Historic District are also worth a visit. 

Reunion Tower and Dallas skyline in Texas
Reunion Tower and Dallas skyline in Texas

Amarillo

The Amarillo, Texas area is a must visit stop on Historic Route 66. 

The city has plenty of museums, parks, and restaurants if you want to sight see or relax.

The food scene is amazing too because there are so many different types of cuisines available including Tex-Mex, BBQ and more. 

But the main attraction is the Route 66 Historic District where you can find murals, diners, and many other iconic attractions including the Big Texan Steak ranch. 

For Editorial purposes only - The Old Cowboy Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas
For Editorial purposes only – The Old Cowboy Motel on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon

For a truly unique geological attraction, consider visiting the Palo Duro Canyon from Amarillo. 

The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a beautiful place to visit, with it’s deep canyon walls and red rock formations. 

From the rim and visitor center, you can see amazing views of the canyon from above. Take the scenic drive to explore the depths of the canyon. 

The park is great for anyone who loves nature, hiking, or camping.

There are many different hiking trails in this state park, including the Lighthouse Trail, the Rock Garden Trail, or the CCC Trail. 

They all offer their own unique experiences but have one thing in common: they’re absolutely gorgeous and a hiker’s delight!

Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch in the Texas Panhandle is one of the quintessential attractions of the Historic Route 66 Road Trip.

Located outside of Amarillo, Texas, this art installation has 10 Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground. 

The idea of the project was to create a space for tourists and visitors to explore America’s car obsession – it has succeeded and how!

Tourists love taking Instagram pictures and selfies with the cars, spray painting on them, or simply enjoying themselves in the artwork.

Must on a Route 66 road trip, Cadillac Ranch is a roadside attraction that will never be forgotten. 

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas

Adrian

Adrian Texas is a small town in West Texas, about 50 mins from Amarillo. It is the midpoint of Route 66 and has many Instagram photo ops. 

On Adrian’s Main Street, you will find many old buildings with peeling paint and boarded up windows. 

Visit the Midpoint Cafe for lunch and check out the Route 66 memorabilia on the walls. 

Also essential is the photo with the ‘Welcome to Adrian’ sign. 

Adrian, Texas
Adrian, Texas

Glenrio

Straddling the border between Texas and New Mexico is a forgotten town that once made its living off of Route 66. 

Now, it remains home to the occasional tourists, weeds growing across the vast prairie, and a collection of dilapidated buildings including the iconic Cafe Little Juarez.

Santa Rosa Blue Hole 

The Santa Rosa Blue Hole in New Mexico is one of the most popular destinations for tourists on the Mother Road. 

This natural spring fed swimming hole also has a system of underground caves. It’s electric blue color is a welcome sight in the New Mexico desert.

Activities around the Blue Hole include hiking, camping, swimming in the blue hole, or just relaxing by it’s side and taking in the view.

This is also a popular scuba diving destination in the US. 

Santa Rosa Blue Hole
Santa Rosa Blue Hole

Albuquerque 

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It’s home to a vibrant culture, historic sites, delicious food, and beautiful scenery. 

From museums and art galleries, to shopping, hiking trails and restaurants Albuquerque has it all! Families can visit the Rio Grande Zoo or take a stroll around Old Town Albuquerque. 

Check out the city’s many museums including the National Hispanic Museum of Art or the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

From the world-renowned Route 66 to the International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque is a must stop on your way to California. 

San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town, Albuquerque
San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town, Albuquerque

Optional: Santa Fe and Pecos

Some of the old alignments of Route 66 once passed through Santa Fe. Many road trippers on Route 66 still stop in Santa Fe and nearby Pecos on their way west. 

Santa Fe is a city of culture, history, and beauty.

The city has amazing Pueblo style architecture. Take a stroll through the historic districts surrounding the Santa Fe Plaza and enjoy the vibe of the city.

Santa Fe is also an amazing destination for art lovers. Did you know there are more than 100 art galleries in the town? Visit the Canyon Road to see them all. 

Enjoy margaritas on the margarita trail, buy Native American jewelry, and enjoy a beak from the driving in this amazing destination. 

Pecos is located just half an hour away from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The history, the culture, the beauty and diversity of this region is amazing! 

There are many wonderful sites to visit nearby such as the Pecos National Historical Park where you can explore Native American ruins; Glorieta Pass which was the site of an important battle in the Civil War;  and the beautiful Benedictine Monastery.

Outdoor lovers can enjoy hiking, camping, and hunting in the Pecos Wilderness area.

Pueblo Style House In Sta. Fe, New Mexico
Pueblo Style House In Sta. Fe, New Mexico

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

The Petrified Forest National Park is a place that you don’t want to miss. 

It’s located in northeastern Arizona and is one of the most beautiful places in the USA. 

The park was created from an ancient forest which turned to stone over time. It contains the largest collection of petrified wood in the world.

Visitors can hike amongst the fossilized logs of ancient trees and see the amazing colors and textures.

Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from the Grand Canyon in the east to the Navajo Nation in the west. 

One of the most accessible areas of this stunning natural landscape can be reached via the Painted Desert Visitor Center of the Petrified Forest National Park.

Here you can admire the beautiful color striations and amazing rock formations that look the most vibrant at sunset. 

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a charming small city in northern Arizona. It’s known for its beautiful weather, picturesque views, and historical attractions. 

Our favorite attraction here is Lowell Observatory, a public observatory that is open to visitors. You can view celestial objects like planets, stars, galaxies and nebulae through the telescopes.

Visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation should visit Arizona Snowbowl for skiing while cultural tourists can see the Native American sites in Wupatki National Monument or the Walnut Canyon National Monument.

Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff
Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon National Park, located in Northern Arizona, can be easily seen on a Route 66 road trip from Texas to California.

Seeing the Grand Canyon is an amazing experience. It spans across 277 miles and has a depth of 6,000 feet at its deepest point. 

The canyon was formed by the Colorado River over millions of years of erosion. The different layers of the canyon can be easily seen from the Rim trails. 

Stop at the Visitor Center and learn about the geology and natural history of the canyon. Hike within its depths or take the scenic rim drives.

Panoramic view of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona at dusk
Panoramic view of the Grand Canyon national Park in Arizona at dusk

Optional: Sedona 

The red rocks and craggy terrain of Sedona make for some of the most enchanting landscapes in Arizona. 

Sedona also has a rich history and culture with the first Native Americans settling here over 10,000 years ago. 

There is a lot to do and see here, so you’ll want to spend at least an entire day exploring all that Sedona has to offer.

Enjoy the breathtaking views from Bell Rock butte, take a scenic drive to enjoy the natural beauty of Oak Creek Canyon, or visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona in Arizona
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona in Arizona

Optional: Las Vegas

From the Grand Canyon, you can continue on Route 66 towards California, but why not take a detour to Las Vegas?

Las Vegas is a city of lights and dreams. It’s also one of the most exciting cities in America to visit. 

Vegas has tons of things to do for visitors – from world-class shows and attractions, to award-winning dining and shopping, Sin City has it all.

See the amazing casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. View the fountains of Bellagio and take a gondola ride in Venice. Enjoy partying, gambling, and drinks. 

Explore outdoor attractions such as Valley of Fire State Park or the beautiful Red Rock Canyon before driving towards the beaches of California. 

There are many other national parks near Vegas like Bruce Canyon and Zion which are perfect additions to this road trip if you have the time. 

Also Read: Grand Canyon Road Trip from Las Vegas

Optional: Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. 

This popular tourist attraction features two separate slot canyons: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon

They were formed by erosion of the Navajo sandstone over millions of years. The stunning canyon walls are covered with red and black stripes and spirals due to the movement of the water. 

The deeper you hike in the canyon, the more vivid is its beauty. The colors change with sunlight, making the noon tours very popular.

Optional: Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in mainland US and worth the detour from Route 66. 

The park contains many diverse landscapes including the arid desert, salt flats, sand dunes, and desolate badlands. 

Popular things to do in Death Valley National Park include hiking, scenic drives, sand boarding the dunes, and visiting historic structures in the park such as Scotty’s Castle. 

Death Valley National Park superbloom in California
Death Valley National Park superbloom in California

Seligman

Seligman is a little town in Northern Arizona, nestled between Flagstaff and Kingman. 

It’s known as an iconic Route 66 stop and has many retro shops, diners, and motels. 

Visit the Return To The 50s Museum to see vintage cars and Route 66 memorabilia. 

Learning about the history of Seligman at this converted gas station.

Seligman, Arizona
Seligman, Arizona

Kingman 

Kingman, a small town in Arizona along Route 66, has a rich history. 

It is home to Route 66 Museum which celebrates America’s Mother Road. 

Mohave Museum of History and Arts you can learn about Western heritage and Native American crafts & history.

Families love seeing the vintage steam trains and railroad exhibits at Locomotive Park. 

This little gem has something to offer for everyone and we recommend keeping aside two to three hours to explore Kingman.

A scene inside The Route 66 Museum in Kingman depecting the history of transportation along the famous highway. The setup depecits the move of people along route 66 during The Great Depression.

Pasadena

Pasadena, located on the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains in Southern California, is an amazing stop on the Route 66 road trip from Texas to California. 

Here you can still see some of the original motels including the Saga Motor Hotel and the Pasadena Motel. 

Another iconic attraction here is the Colorado Street Bridge, built in the Beaux Arts style of architecture. 

You can also observe the historic neon signs throughout the city. 

The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California
The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California

Santa Monica 

The affluent beachfront city of Santa Monica is the end of your Texas California road trip. 

The city is home to one of the world’s most famous beaches, the Santa Monica Beach.

Santa Monica is also famous for its pier and amusement park as well as panoramic ocean views. The Santa Monica pier has mile marker 0 or End of Route 66 sign and is a must visit!

Other options to extend Texas California Road Trip

After reaching Los Angeles, you can either drive up or down the coast along the Pacific Coast Highway. 

San Diego

San Diego, located in southern California, is famous for its laid back vibe and stunning beaches. It is a beautiful place to visit.

You can easily reach San Diego by driving south along the coastal highway from Los Angeles.

The city enjoys perfect, sunny weather year-round and has a variety of world class tourist attractions.

Visit amazing museums such as the Maritime Museum of San Diego or the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum or see the Spanish Colonial architecture in Balboa Park.

Enjoy the stunning beach at La Jolla Cove. Take a stroll through downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter and enjoy sunshine on the Coronado Beach.

If you have kids, visit the SeaWorld San Diego for its rides and animal shows or go on a whale watching tour.

San Diego

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a beautiful whitewashed city with striking Spanish colonial architecture. Its beautiful location along the pacific Ocean makes it popular with visitors. 

Santa Barbara has plenty of attractions and activities, but it also offers beautiful scenery, beaches, and diverse culture.

Visit Santa Barbara’s most famous landmarks including Old Mission Santa Barbara, El Presidio de Santa Bárbara, and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. 

Admire the view from the clocktower before heading down to the beach or taking a stroll on Stearns Wharf. 

Big Sur

Visit Big Sur on an epic San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway to see the best of Coastal California. 

The Big Sur region located along the central coast of California is home to miles and miles of untouched wilderness. 

Big Sur is located between Monterey and San Luis Obispo and encompasses over 150 miles of coastline.

It is one of the most beautiful places on earth and enchants visitors with its dramatic cliffs, towering redwood trees, crashing waves, unique rock formations, and sweeping vistas. 

There’s plenty of attractions for visitors in Big Sur: see the beautiful McWay Falls, hike through redwood forests, search for jade in hidden coves, explore sea caves in a kayak; enjoy whale-watching, or surf to your heart’s content.

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in America. 

Famous for its innovation, art, and technology, the City by The Bay has been attracting visitors since the Gold Rush days. 

Top things to do in San Francisco include the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Alcatraz Island, and the museums. 

San Francisco’s diverse cuisine, vibrant neighborhoods, and bohemian vibe provide the perfect end to the Texas California drive.

If you are not interested in California’s beaches, then another great option is to take the Grand Canyon – Las Vegas – Death Valley route and then continue in California on SR 395 to Lake Tahoe in northern California. 

This road will take you to Yosemite from the eastern Lee Vining entrance and also past Mammoth Lakes. Enjoy the hiking trails and the Sierra Nevada scenery in northern California. 

Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills is a mountain range in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California. The name comes from Alabama white marble, which was quarried here during the late 19th century. 

The hills offer breathtaking views and are great for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and scenic drives. Located in the Mojave Desert, this dramatic landscape is a popular filming location as well as Instagram hotspot. 

To reach Alabama Hills, continue on Route 395 up to Lone Pine then follow the signs to the natural area. 

A lonely person walking on a pathway in Alabama hills in California
A lonely person walking on a pathway in Alabama hills in California

Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site preserves the ruins of a Japanese American internment camp where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.

Visitors to the site can learn about the hardships of those living there including inadequate cooling and heating, rationed food, and hard labor as well as gain a unique insight into this dark chapter of American history.

Manzanar National Park in California
Manzanar National Park in California

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is a beautiful alpine town in Eastern California. 

It is located at the base of Mount Whitney and offers a variety of outdoor activities and scenic vistas.

The lakes located nearby are popular for fishing, hiking, swimming, kayaking, or just enjoying the scenic views.

In winter, Mammoth Lakes is a popular skiing destination in California. 

Mammoth Lakes California

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited national parks in America. 

The park is home to some of the tallest waterfalls including the Yosemite Falls and Bridal veil Falls which are both over 2,000 feet high! 

Inside Yosemite, you will also find some of the biggest trees in North America – the giant sequoia trees! 

Highway 395 will take you to Yosemite via the eastern entrance near Lee Vinings. 

This entrance is open only during the summer months from May through October and offers a more serene, less crowded experience.

Yosemite National Park

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie ghost town, located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, is an amazing place to visit. 

Bodie was once a prosperous mining town and home to over 10,000 people.

The Bodie State Historic Park excellently preserves the town and its historic buildings and offers a fascinating glimpse into life as it existed over 100 years ago.

Visitors can see over 80 buildings including banks, saloons, schools, stores, and churches. 

Bodie Ghost Town in California
Bodie Ghost Town in California

Lake Tahoe

At the end of the road, you will find Lake Tahoe. 

Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and attracts over 3.5 million annual visitors. 

This is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the US. It is famous for its stunning blue color and an incredible shoreline with granite rock formations.

Popular summer activities include hiking, biking, and scenic drives while in the winter Lake Tahoe is popular for snowshoeing and skiing. 

After seeing Lake Tahoe, make your way back to Texas or explore more of California on an amazing NorthernCalifornia road trip. 

Texas to California is the ultimate family road trip vacation. You will see a variety of beautiful landscapes and world class attractions including museums and zoos. 

It offers an amazing educational experience for the kids and one of our favorite things to do in the American southwest.

We hope you liked our post on planning a Texas to California road trip itinerary. 

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