15 days in California Itinerary

15 days in California Itinerary

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Route & dates

15 days in California Itinerary

Start: Newark
Fly:  7​h
1
San Francisco
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
2
Carmel
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
3
San Simeon
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 45​min
4
Santa Barbara
— 1 night
5
Los Angeles
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h
6
Newport Beach
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h
7
Palm Springs
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 15​min
8
San Diego
— 2 nights
9
San Diego
— 1 night
Fly:  6​h 45​min
End: Newark

2
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Start off your visit on the 17th (Sun): engage your brain at California Academy of Sciences, then examine the collection at SS Jeremiah O'Brien, and then browse the different shops at Ferry Building Marketplace. On your second day here, enjoy the sand and surf at Miramar Beach, then enjoy the sand and surf at Fitzgerald J V Marine Reserve, and then steep yourself in history at City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

To find other places to visit, reviews, maps, and more tourist information, read our San Francisco attractions planning site

Newark to San Francisco is an approximately 7-hour flight. You can also drive; or take a bus. You'll gain 3 hours traveling from Newark to San Francisco due to the time zone difference. Plan for somewhat warmer temperatures traveling from Newark in December, with highs in San Francisco at 58°F and lows at 45°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Tue) to allow time to drive to Carmel.

Things to do in San Francisco

Outdoors Beaches Parks

Side Trips

Fitzgerald J V Marine Reserve, Miramar Beach
Find places to stay Dec 17 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Miramar Beach ©
Miramar Beach
Fitzgerald J V Marine Reserve ©
Fitzgerald J V Marine Reserve
SS Jeremiah O'Brien ©
SS Jeremiah O'Brien

2
nights
Carmel

Carmel ©
Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply called Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916. Kick off your visit on the 19th (Tue): immerse yourself in nature at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, then enjoy the sand and surf at Point Lobos State Reserve, and then stop by The Cheese Shop. Keep things going the next day: play a few rounds at Pebble Beach Golf Links, then kick back and relax at Lovers Point, and then get to know the fascinating history of Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard.

To see other places to visit, photos, reviews, and more tourist information, refer to the Carmel online travel route planner

You can drive from San Francisco to Carmel in 2.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of flight and taxi; or take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 60°F in December, and nighttime lows around 43°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to San Simeon.

Things to do in Carmel

Outdoors Parks Nature

Side Trips

Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Point Lobos ©
Point Lobos
Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard ©
Pacific Grove Oceanview Boulevard
Pebble Beach Golf Links ©
Pebble Beach Golf Links

1
night
San Simeon

San Simeon ©
When you arrive in tiny San Simeon, which lies halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you can see why William Randolph Hearst chose this coastal locale for his famous hilltop castle.
Kick off your visit on the 21st (Thu): pause for some photo ops at Friends of Hearst Castle, see the interesting displays at Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay (Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary), stop by Sebastian General Store, then identify plant and animal life at Elephant Seal Rookery, and finally take some stellar pictures from Ragged Point.

For where to stay, more things to do, reviews, and tourist information, go to the San Simeon vacation builder app

Traveling by car from Carmel to San Simeon takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Traveling from Carmel in December, you can expect nighttime temperatures to be a bit warmer in San Simeon, with lows of 50°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Fri) so you can go by car to Santa Barbara.

Things to do in San Simeon

Wildlife Parks Historic Sites

Side Trip

Ragged Point
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 22:
Highlights from your plan

1
night
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara ©
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is a solid vacation destination with its wide beaches, renowned wineries, and some of California's finest shopping and dining options.
On the 22nd (Fri), explore and take pictures at State Street, steep yourself in history at Old Mission Santa Barbara, and then look for gifts at Chocolate Maya.

To see more things to do, ratings, and other tourist information, read Santa Barbara vacation planning website

Drive from San Simeon to Santa Barbara in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and train; or take a bus. Traveling from San Simeon in December, expect nights in Santa Barbara to be little chillier, around 41°F, while days are a bit warmer, around 64°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Sat) early enough to drive to Los Angeles.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Historic Sites Shopping Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Old Mission Santa Barbara ©
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Chocolate Maya ©
Chocolate Maya

2
nights
Los Angeles

Los Angeles ©
Surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, valleys, beaches, and deserts, the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is home to over 17 million people.
Kick off your visit on the 23rd (Sat): appreciate the extensive heritage of Santa Monica Pier, take a stroll through Abbot Kinney Boulevard, then see the interesting displays at Getty Center The Publications, then stop by The Original Farmers Market, and finally browse the different shops at The Grove. Here are some ideas for day two: get a new perspective on nature at La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, identify plant and animal life at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, then kick back and relax at Venice Beach and Boardwalk, and finally shop like a local with Third Street Promenade.

For maps, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, go to the Los Angeles itinerary planner

You can drive from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a bus. Traveling from Santa Barbara in December, expect somewhat warmer with lows of 49°F in Los Angeles. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 25th (Mon) so you can go by car to Newport Beach.

Things to do in Los Angeles

Shopping Parks Wildlife

Side Trip

Santa Monica
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
The Grove ©
The Grove
The Getty Center ©
The Getty Center
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum ©
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

1
night
Newport Beach

Newport Beach ©
City beaches line the coast from the Balboa Peninsula to the Santa Ana River in Newport Beach.
On the 25th (Mon), tour the pleasant surroundings at Crystal Cove, stroll through Laguna Beach, and then browse the different shops at Irvine Spectrum Center.

To see maps, other places to visit, traveler tips, and more tourist information, you can read our Newport Beach trip planner

Traveling by car from Los Angeles to Newport Beach takes an hour. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train and bus; or take a bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 66°F, and evening lows to 48°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Palm Springs.

Things to do in Newport Beach

Shopping Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Irvine Spectrum Center, Crystal Cove
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Irvine Spectrum Center ©
Irvine Spectrum Center
Crystal Cove ©
Crystal Cove

1
night
Palm Springs

Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a desert resort city in Riverside County, California, United States, within the Coachella Valley. On the 26th (Tue), look for all kinds of wild species at Murray Canyon Trail, then explore the world behind art at Palm Springs Art Museum, then contemplate the long history of Indian Canyons, and finally browse the eclectic array of goods at VillageFest.

To see where to stay, more things to do, ratings, and other tourist information, refer to the Palm Springs trip planning tool

You can drive from Newport Beach to Palm Springs in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 68°F in December, and nighttime lows around 46°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Wed) early enough to drive to San Diego.

Things to do in Palm Springs

Parks Wildlife Historic Sites
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs Art Museum
Indian Canyons ©
Indian Canyons
VillageFest ©
VillageFest

2
nights
San Diego

San Diego ©
Divided into neighborhoods with distinct characters and cultural heritages, San Diego sits just north of the Mexican border and offers visitors a blend of tourist attractions, including a lively nightlife, diverse cuisine, and a thriving musical scene.
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Wed): revel in the low prices at Las Americas Premium Outlets, kick back and relax at Moonlight Beach, and then see the interesting displays at Mission San Luis Rey. On the 28th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: buy something for everyone on your list at Fashion Valley, enjoy the sand and surf at Coronado Beach, and then get a taste of the local shopping with Gaslamp Quarter.

To find traveler tips, maps, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our San Diego trip planner

Traveling by car from Palm Springs to San Diego takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of bus and train. Plan for somewhat warmer nights when traveling from Palm Springs in December since evenings lows in San Diego dip to 52°F. You'll have a few hours on the 29th (Fri) to wrap things up before traveling to San Diego.

Things to do in San Diego

Shopping Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Coronado Beach, Mission San Luis Rey, Moonlight State Beach
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Las Americas Premium Outlets ©
Las Americas Premium Outlets
Coronado Beach ©
Coronado Beach
Moonlight State Beach ©
Moonlight State Beach

1
night
San Diego

San Diego ©
Kick off your visit on the 29th (Fri): visit a coastal fixture at Old Point Loma Lighthouse, then explore the striking landscape at Point Loma, and then pause for some photo ops at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.

To find reviews, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, use the San Diego journey planner

Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Sat) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in San Diego

Historic Sites Nature Shopping
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Point Loma ©
Point Loma
Old Point Loma Lighthouse ©
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Mormon Battalion Historic Site ©
Mormon Battalion Historic Site

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