California Road Trip in a Rental Car – How To Plan?

There is always much to see in California. Ride a car and explore the state cities, world-popular national parks, valleys, and picturesque beaches between them. The territory is huge and your time is often limited. Where and what car to take for rent? Where to stop for dinner and night on your California road trip? How long to stay and how much money to take with you to feel comfortable? No worries – follow this California road trip planner and get answers to all your questions.

How to plan a California road trip?

Do you want to know how it feels to drive your car along the famous Pacific Highway? It must be one of the most exciting trips. Think of the places you want to stop at, how long you will stay, where you will get some rest, and where to take dinner. You can make the best journey in California only if you make many efforts to plan it wisely.

When to set off on a California road trip?

The ideal road trip in California starts in late spring and goes through summer to early autumn. July and August can boast almost perfect weather. But these are the busiest and crowded months with high prices for hotels, food, and cars for rent.

What is the best ride in California?

California journey planner includes such popular cities as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Pacific Highway, also known as Highway 101, is a popular and beautiful route you have ever met. Californian cuisine, Golden Gate Bridge, wild mountains of Big Sur, and many other MUST-DO stops make your DREAM DRIVE complete.

What to take with you to California?

Taking a road trip California, you have to be strategic about what you bring with you. It doesn’t matter what part of California you are planning to visit, you need a pair of denim shorts, hoodies, and other pieces of clothes that are stylish and comfortable in the Bay Area. The most transitional shoes in California are flat lace-up sandals and functional but cool sneakers or espadrilles.

road trip planner, California road map, California road trip

California on-the-go attractions

California attracts visitors with its bright cities, beaches, amusement parks, forests, deserts, islands you can find nowhere else. Even a short ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco impresses you with such California road stops as legendary Hollywood Hills, Golden Gate Bridge, and Disneyland. Read more about California trip ideas.

  1. Los Angeles

This place is the most atmospheric city you have ever seen. Also, this is a start point for most travelers, where you can ride a vehicle and dive into your California coast road trip. Take a journey to Hollywood and legendary Beverly Hills, visit Getty Centre and Griffith Observatory. There is always many interesting places to see and things to do for kids and adults.

  1. Riverside County

This must be your next stop and a big mark on your California road map. This place attracts you with its delicious wines, Oak Mountain Winery, and the most exciting event – hot-air balloon ride.

  1. San Diego

A California road trip is impossible without a stop in San Diego. You should visit a legendary place – Old Town that takes you a few hundred years back. Never miss the Cabrillo Monument and Sunset Cliffs. This romantic place is good to meet sunset.

  1. Ghost Town

Looking for a good place to take some rest after a long drive you come to Calico Ghost Town. Just make a stop and take a short excursion to the underground mine and through the city.

  1. 66 Route

You cannot find this legendary route on a map. But still, this is the oldest and adventurous highway in America. You can find it when traveling from Chicago to Needles and to the east to stop in Santa Monica. Also, you can get the legendary trail driving through various states.

  1. Death Valley

Welcome to the hottest place you can meet in the east. Death Valley is a huge and important part of the National park. Feel brave among dunes but always have your car in view.

  1. Redwood National and State Parks

Californian national parks tour takes you to the north of the country to Redwood National and State Parks and the coastline. This territory belongs to the tallest trees on the Earth and a good place to stop for a day camping. It is a really perfect place for a California road trip.

  1. Disneyland

The road trip California is impossible without visiting Disneyland, located in Anaheim. This is an area of games, rides, shows, restaurants, and all possible attractions for kids and adults.

The well-liked routes out of California – check them all!

Do you rent a car for a California road trip? Where to? Have you in plans to visit Florida, Denver or Oregon? Just take advantage of your drive.

california coast road trip, road trip california, northern california road trip

California – Oregon

It starts from Los Angeles and takes you to the neighbor Oregon. To get to Washington you should follow US-101. This is a popular touristic route that takes you about 10 hours driving along the California Coast. Or you can hire a budget vehicle in San Francisco and go on I-5 N and US-97.

Interesting places: Chandelier drive-through tree in Leggett, Avenue of the Giants, Redwoods State Park, Founders Grove, Southern Oregon Coast, Dune Country.

California – Florida

California to Florida route takes you along I-40E for 2702 miles. It is about 40 hours of driving.

Interesting places: Nashville, Grand Canyon, San Antonio River Park, Houston, New Orleans.

California – Texas

To take a ride to Texas from California you spend about 25 hours and 1 800 miles. You drive through 4 states and have a lot of interesting places to see. You have a choice: traditional I-40 or a new route I-10.

Interesting places: Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, Malibu, LA, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Carlsbad.

California – Colorado

The California road trip to Colorado is about 776 miles. It is 17 hours of driving. You can find so many natural attractions to see on your way!

Interesting places: NV National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley.

California – Michigan

You need to follow the route I-80E to reach Michigan. The journey takes about 30 hours of driving and more than 2 000 miles.

Interesting places: Empire Historic Park, Salt Lake City, Wyoming Prison Museum, Detroit, Greenfield Village, Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

California – Virginia

California to Virginia ride starts at I-40E and takes you to Seligman for a short break. The route is 2 500 miles long, and you’ll spend about 40 hours driving.

Interesting places: Grand Canyon, Route 66, Memphis, Nashville.

california road trip, road trip, california coast road trip

How much can it cost to drive a car to California?

Don’t expect that your California road trip will be cheap. Of course, there is always a variant to save some money.

Your expenses for a California road trip vary from $200-$300 per day, including car rental, gas, some food, and places to stay if needed. Of course, most of your budget goes to pay for a car. But there is always a way to cut down your rental price. You can read about it below. Speaking about hostels, food, and drinks, it’s all up to you. The prices you meet are really different.

Rental car: $60-$150 per day;

Gas: $4.20-$4.60 per gallon;

Hotel: $150-$250;

Hostel: $20-$40;

Camping: $10-$20 (you can find a place for free);

Sandwiches: $8-$15;

Coffee: $4-$5;

Dinner for two in the cafe: $50-$80.

Prices for gas in California region

The highway condition is perfect in the whole state. Of course, different people pick different routes and go at a different speed. Gas prices vary based on what part of California you have picked for a trip. In general, the price is around $4.20 to $4.60 in California and lower in the other states.

Hire a car in California. How much money do you need?

California stretches about 900 miles from Mexico to the northwestern American border. There are so many worthy places to visit, including National Parks, legendary routes, valleys, and wineries. Rent a car in California and start your journey right now!

Prices for an economy class rental car at Los Angeles Airport (LA)

Rental agency Price per day
ACE rent a car from $51
Alamo Rent a Car logo from $37
Advantage rent a car from $35
AVIS Rent a Car from $60
Budget Rent a Car from $58
Dollar Rent A Car from $55
Fox Rent A Car from $38
Enterprise Rent-A-Car from $55
Hertz from $47
National Car Rental from $49
SIXT Rent a Car from $69
Payless Car Rental from $37
Thrifty Car Rental from $57

What car brand is perfect for a California road trip?

Everything depends on how many people you have and how much luggage you take. Some people prefer SUVs, others like convertible cars to enjoy the beautiful coastline. Here are the most popular car brands when it comes to rental:

Small cars – Chevrolet Spark, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa;

Full-Size cars – Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan Altima;

SUVs – Ford Escape, Toyota RAV;

Vans, minivans – Nissan Quest, Dodge Grand;

Exotic cars – Corvette.

road trip california, california road trip, california coast road trip

How to travel cheaply on a road tour in California?

Everyone wants to take a California road trip on a budget. Before you start your journey you need to plan it carefully.

So, how to pick the cheapest car for rental?

  1. Don’t take a car in Los Angeles

If it is possible, try to take a car for rent somewhere far from LA airport, or even in the neighbor city San Francisco, San Diego. The prices at the airport are always money-taking.

  1. Bring a navigator

If you don’t want to pay for GPS, you can take a navigation system with you.

  1. Pick a car with a lower center of gravity

When you pick a car for your California road trip, you should pay attention to vehicles with a low center of gravity. The low cars and SUVs are not very comfortable for a long journey and for the hairpin turns of California. Ford Mustang is a good choice.

  1. Take automatic cars

If you want to feel comfortable on California turns and mountains, ups and downs, it is better to take an automatic car.

How to define where to stop for night and dinner on a road trip in California?

Of course, it depends on what destination you have picked. Let’s consider the most popular California ride: Southern California Destination (5 days). The area between the two legendary points attracts people the most. You will meet Echo Park, La Jolla, Huntington Beach, Channel Islands, Malibu.

Stop to sleep:

Los Angeles Samesun Venice Beach ($96 per night);

LA Grafton on Sunset ($225 per night);

LA Hollywood Hostels ($129 per night);

San Diego Zoo Hostel ($77 per night);

SD Lucky D’s ($25 for bed).

Stop to eat:

SD Lost Abbey;

San Diego Green Flash;

A.O.C. in Los Angeles;

LA Tabula Rosa Cafe;

El Prez in San Diego;

Night Market Song Cafe in Los Angeles.

If you think of driving a rental car, there are many things to consider. Hope, these tips will help you to find the best and the cheapest transport. Wish you a happy California road trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *