For #TeamCoco the word ‘road-trip’ instills excitement in our hearts, let a lone the words ‘Californian road-trip’. Our minds are instantly turned towards the adventure that lies ahead, embodying everything we stand for, freedom, exploration, fun, and of course a little dose of luxury. Road-trips require, a lot of planning, a lot of organising and a lot of research. From where you will start to where you will end, from what car you will drive, who will drive and of course your budget. It’s essential to be prepared for each destination and every incident (good or bad) that could potentially occur. With that said, we’ve rounded up our top stops for a Californian road-trip so you can truly make the most out of your trip and ensure you see as much of what this state has to offer as possible.
Flying in to LAX is a good idea to start (queue Miley Cyrus ‘Party in the USA’ lyrics) and once you’ve collected your car/campervan/cadillac, its a one hour drive to Newport Beach. There are so many things to do when it comes to the ocean from sunset cruises, paddle boarding and with the local beaches being known for their waves its great for surfers or if you fancy giving surfing lessons a go. The beaches are essentially the centre of a stay here, the harbous, the hiking and even some wine tasting have uncomparible views of the ocean. There is so much scope for luxury too, from spa treatments to shopping and even where you stay, there is a sophisticated and aspirational atmosphere here that makes you want to stay.
After a 2 hour drive the next stop is Santa Monica, a coastal city west of LA. Staying here gives you the option to stay by the beach or venture into downtown LA. Santa Monica is known for its Pier, with the the only over-water ferris wheel in California, arcades, places to fish, restaurants, shopping and of course the original muscle beach, the pier is a destination in itself. It is also home to the Pacific Park amusement park, Santa Monica is the perfect place to unwind but also let loose; the city changes in the evening and the vibe shifts from relxaing at a rooftop bar to dancing all night at a club.
Energetic, cool, creative and urban, are just a few words to describe West Hollywood, just half an hours drive away from Santa Monica.. With a nightlife that has pushed boundaries since the 1920’s the Sunset Strip now features Chateau Marmont and comedy clubs, all of which are a must and with a number of renowned restaurants, your evenings here are pretty much sorted. In the day time its time to both recover and explore; shopping on Rodeo Drive, a hike to the Hollywood sign, a stroll along the Walk of Fame and a day at Universal Studios are just a few ways in which you can spend your days. it’s safe to say you will most likely need a few days here to truly make the most out of this eccentric place.
After a fun-packed few days in West Hollywood, a 2 hour and 10 minute drive allows you escape to Palm Springs. You can spend your days here lounging in luxury by a hotel pool, shopping on golf courses or in the spa. If you still fancy exploring then Palm Springs has a lot to offer, as this isn’t just the home to Coachella; with hot springs, hiking and biking trails with incredible views of the valley are well worth doing, just be sure to be equipped for the intense seasonal heat. There are also an array of vintage boutiques, bars, restaurants, botanical gardens and wonderful architecture, Palm Springs is an ideal stop on a Californian road trip.
Rugged rock formations, cacti, twisted trees and an expansive landscape; Joshua Tree National Park is worlds away from the city of Palm Springs despite it being just an hours drive. Situated between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts with views over Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault, Joshua Tree is a must. You can leisurely drive through the park in around 4 hours but ensure you make it to Key’s view in time for sunset or if you’re an early bird, sunrise. Lately the park has been vandalised and the recover from this damage is said to take 200-300 years, so if you do visit, it is important to stick to set routes and appreciate the park, the nature and the wildlife within it.
Around 20 minutes away is your next destination, Pioneer-town; originally built by Hollywood in the 1940’s as a film set but also as functioning town where workers could stay and live. The town looks and feels like you have been dropped off in an old western film, with no pharmacy, no supermarket, one restaurant and a few places to stay, it is un-liveable for some, for others however its a haven. A mix of old and new residents with a scattering of tourists, living here isn’t easy, the hostile desert environment, cacti, scorpions, snakes and wild animals along with the fact your immersed in complete darkness at night, staying here is most definitely an adventure, probably the most surreal one in your life.
Another once in a lifetime stop is up next and is a good 4 hour drive away, so ensure you have a good playlist lined up, plenty of snacks and most importantly enough gas to get you from A to B in the desert. Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in America but is one that can’t be missed. In just three days you are able to explore, the ghost town, colourful rocks, sand dunes, the Devils golf course, Titus Canyon and Badwater and Basin’s Salt flats. A stay here is well worth the extreme conditions.
Would this road-trip be complete without a stop in Las Vegas? Not only does it have an international airport but it is a complete contrast to the last few stops. We would say it immerses you back into a cosmopolitan reality but lets face it, Vegas is anything but that. The crazy night life and entertainment, fine dining, gambling and pool parties are all something it’s necessary to experience here yet the Nevada has way more to offer too. The stratosphere is a great place to go for thrill seekers, the Bellagio has its own botanic gardens, the Venetian can transport you to Venice in a gondola and a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon allows you to experience one of the natural wonders of the world. Making Vegas the ideal way to end your trip but you may need another week or so to recover.