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Make the most of your trek through Southern California by taking a driving tour around legendary sites and destinations around the desert and coastlines. Southern California is rich with history and culture so you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy a new experience. Whether you find yourself in Los Angeles, San Diego, or the southern deserts, you can head off on a self-guided driving tour or guided adventure through scenic lands and historic sites.
One of the easiest ways to see old missions and parts of Yosemite National Park is with a driving tour to Hearst Castle and Yosemite. You can make your way to Merced to stop at the Castle Air Museum to see vintage military aircraft or visit the Merced County Courthouse Museum to see historical exhibits about the county and state. Head to Hollister to tour the San Benito County Historical Museum and stop by the Mission San Juan Bautista building. Other sites to add to your must-see list around this route include the Santa Lucia Range, the Lake San Antonio Recreation area, Helen Moe’s Antique Doll Museum, and the Kearney Mansion Museum. Spend a day exploring Yosemite National Park or visiting Yosemite Village.
The Inland Empire is ripe for exploring and makes for an easy driving tour. Head to San Bernardino, the Redlands, and Beaumont to see the San Gabriel Mission, visit A Special Place Children’s Museum, or visit the Morey Mansion. You can also take a tour fo Joshua Tree National Park to see the Mojave and Colorado desert. Drive up to the top of Little San Bernardino Mountains or visit the Desert Hot Springs along the way. Other highlights of this region include the Colorado River and the historic Santa Fe railroad town of Needles.
The Los Angeles Coast is a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts and you’ll find plenty of unique destinations to explore along the way. You can make your way to a number of beach towns in this area, including Manhattan, South Bay, Venice, and Hermosa. Venice Beach is designed to resemble the city of Venice, Italy, and features a two-mile boardwalk with street entertainers. Head to the South Bay to visit the beach towns of Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach. You’ll need at least a day to explore Catalina Island, an off-shore island that’s accessible via the Catalina Express and home to the Wrigley Mansion and the Avalon Casino. Continue on your tour to explore botanical gardens and the aquarium at the Palos Verdes Peninsula and enjoy a variety of cultural attractions in Long Beach and Naples.
If you’re in the mood for a Disney adventure, head off on a driving tour of Orange County so you can visit Disneyland Park before heading off to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. Spend a day at the historic Knott’s Berry Farm and make a pit stop at Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano to explore some historic sites. San Clemente is accessible from I-5 south and is home to the famous Western White House. Move on to Carlsbad and Escondido further down the interstate.
It would take a lifetime to explore all that San Diego has to offer but you can enjoy several key sites and destinations on a driving tour. Sea World is located in Mission Bay and you can visit several beaches and cultural attractions in La Jolla, a charming and upscale coastal town. Old Town San Diego is home to a 13-acre state historic park and you can visit sites including the Serra Museum, Presidio Park, and the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center. Head to popular attractions in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Coronado Island offers breathtaking views of the water and is rich with history and culture.
Spend a few days on a tour of Southern California deserts so you can see the drifting Imperial Sand Dunes, visit the Salton Sea, and explore Palm Springs. The desert resort area is perfect for sightseeing and exploring cultural attractions. You can also head to the San Jacinto Mountains for a hiking adventure. Escape to the San Jacinto Valley for the day or head to the San Bernardino National Forest for a day of hiking and nature excursions.
The Southern Coast also provides a variety of sightseeing opportunities and you can explore historic California towns such as Riverside, Pomona, and Rialto. Go sightseeing in Rancho Cucamonga where you can take a tour of the John Rains House or head to Anaheim for the day to visit museums, the Richard Nixon Library, and the International Printing Museum. Rialto boasts a rich history and unique culture. You can end your tour with a day at California Citrus State Historic Park with its packing house and citrus grove.