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7 Reasons to Road Trip in California

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

It’s pretty much written in the law that you if you visit California you must go on a road trip. It’s part of that Cali appeal. America has big, open roads that are waiting to be explored and in California in particular, you really can have one of those epic road trips you’ve always imagined.

Knowing which rental company to use can be a bit of a hard task to plan. If you’re limited on how much time you have to play with, knowing where to go can be an even harder task. Having experienced the same dilemmas and recently returned from a Californian road trip (largely based around San Francisco), these seven pearls of wisdom (#7POW) should help…

♥ Escape Campervans

If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, book a van with Escape Campervans. They seriously have the most unique and exciting, but equally reliable vehicles. Each of the vans in their fleet has been given an edgy makeover thanks to custom paint jobs. No two vans are the same, so you’re sure to turn heads as you cruise the roads (and especially when you’re parked up or at the petrol station!).

It’s not just about looks though. The Ford vans come in a few different sizes and are well equipped with practical kitchens and comfy, spacious seating and sleeping areas. If you’re expecting a hefty price tag in return for such an amazing van, think again. They’re really affordable and are renowned for not having hidden costs like some other rental companies.

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

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♥ San Francisco

Escape Campervans has a pick-up office in San Fran, so it makes sense to start your road trip here. Besides, no road trip in California would be complete without driving over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It’s in countless films and is one of the most famous landmarks in the state. If you’re heading southbound you’ll need to pay a small toll (less than $10). Your registration will be scanned as you enter and you’ll then need to go online or visit one of the pay stations within 48hours to pay the fee. FYI – different rules apply for locals. Another word of warning – parking in San Francisco is quite expensive and in demand, so if you’re short on time and budget explore the city once you’ve returned your van.

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

♥ Moss Landing

Many people flock to Pier 39 in San Francisco to see some of the noisiest locals in the city – the sealions. Avoid the crowds by including a stop at Moss Landing. It’s a short drive south from San Francisco and is off the tourist track (big thanks to Escape Campervans for this tip). Look out for the power station and stop in the car park just before. From here you’ll be able to see lots of sealions and if you’re lucky you might see an otter or two as well.

Moss Landing, Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

Moss Landing, Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

Moss Landing, Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

Moss Landing, Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

♥ Carmel-By-The-Sea

It’s not hard to see why both locals and visitors harp on about this small seaside town. It’s just a two and a half hour drive south from San Francisco. It’s fairly compact, offering pretty rows full of boutiques and people with plenty of money. The main reason to stop at Carmel-By-The-Sea is the sunset. Standing on the beautiful white sand, watching the waves crash whilst the sun goes down is an absolutely perfect way to spend an evening. Beachfront parking (particularly in peak seasons) is often in demand, so factor in a bit of extra time.

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Carmel, Carmel by the sea, beach, Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

♥ Slumber Time

Even if hotels are more your thing, you need to spend at least one night sleeping in your van. This is especially true if you book an Escape Campervan as they’re so roomy and surprisingly comfortable. You’re supplied with a bed sheet, pillows and a proper duvet so it really is a worthwhile experience, even if it is just a quick tick on your travel wish list/bucketlist. Driving down Highway 1 (from San Francisco) there are loads of places you can stop overnight. If you make it down to Big Sur you’ll be spoiled for campsite options.

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

♥ Driving 101

Most of the rental vehicles are automatics, which is a little unusual if you’re a fellow Brit. Combined with driving on the right-hand side of the road it can take a little while to get used to it. If you’re starting out in San Francisco bear in mind that you can’t turn right down a lot of the main roads and the city has a lot of steep hills. It’s totally a fun and exciting city to drive in, but just be ready for automatic hill starts!

Highway 1 is on the wish list/bucketlist of so many travellers. It follows the dramatic and extremely beautiful coastline of California, starting in San Francisco and going south. As much as it is absolutely stunning, be warned that if you have a fear of heights or you’re a nervous passenger you might find some of the cliff bends and sheer drops a little tense. It’s definitely one of those roads that you need to include in your Californian adventure though.

Escape Campervans, Road Trip. Campervan California, Campervan, Cool, Unique, Review, Travel Blog, Travel Lifestyle Blog

♥ Sonoma

In the opposite direction – north of San Francisco – you’ll find Sonoma County, otherwise known as the wine region or wine country. The landscape is filled with rolling vineyards and if you make it to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, insanely huge redwood trees. If you have enough time, include a stop for a trek in the Reserve. There are a few different circuits for different levels of fitness and/or timeframes. It’s home to some of the oldest and largest trees, which need to be seen to be believed. Also, definitely stop off at Willi’s Wine Bar for one of the most amazing meals you’ll have during your entire visit to California, but more on that another time (click the link for the write-up).

Armstrong Redwood Nature Reserve, Armstrong, California

Have you been on a road trip in California or elsewhere? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below. If you have any questions feel free to ask. X

Big thanks to Escape Campervans for hosting my road trip.

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Comments (8)

  • Linda Grennan 2 years ago Reply

    Two years ago, we were staying in Half Moon Bay just blocks from Mavericks in October. We woke up one morning to see a Escape Campervan parked nearby. We went over and asked them about it. They were 2 sisters from Australia doing a US road trip. They gave us the grand tour of their van which was the smaller one. We took a photo of the van. This year, we are going to book a trip to drive from SF to Ventura area. It will only be 2 of us but think it will be a great trip. Both of us like to take photographs and my husband does sketching and art. Any tips? Thank you for your page. We are from Oklahoma and hope Escape CamperVans comes to our state.

    Taylor Hearts Travel 2 years ago Reply

    That sounds like such a fun trip – how exciting! My main tip would be to go for as long as you can (not sure if you’re restricted by annual leave). We had a short window, so our trip felt a little rushed. I wish we could have stopped off more and for longer. With your interests, more time would allow for contingencies if the weather isn’t so great one day etc.

    Wishing you all the best for your adventure :)

  • Ali e 4 years ago Reply

    Looks and sounds like a wonderful trip. My husband and I booked a van with the same company and are headed to California in June. Was it hard to find places to stay in the van? Did you have to book campsites ahead of time? Also, where do you suggest staying near the Armstrong Redwoods? Thanks in advance!

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Wow, that’s so exciting! You’ll have the best time. There are plenty of roadside bays and quiet places you could easily pull over in and chance your luck. However, I guess it depends on how risky you are. Technically, you could be moved along if the police catch you and if your imagination is anything like mine, you might be a bit scared!

    There are loads of campsites with cabins/lodges, bays for campervans with BBQ/shower/toilet facilities and more in the popular spots like Big Sur. If you have your heart set on a particular one, then definitely book ahead. Otherwise, you’d probably be okay to rock up – that’s what we did and we arrived late into the evening, but still managed to get a bay. They’re cheap too.

    Escape Campervans will give you a guide when you get your van and it details all of their favourite spots, with pros and cons for each. It also suggests some spots for roadside parking.

    In terms of Armstrong Redwoods, we took the van to Farmhouse Inn and stayed the night in the most gorgeous hotel room. It’s a really short drive from there and is such an amazing place that it has made one of my top three accommodation spots!

    Hope that helps and even more so, hope you have THE best time. :)

  • My Mom lives in San Diego and Tom’s Mom lives in Sonoma so every year when we visit the US we drive between the two. I love that the beautiful drive up or down the 1 has become a yearly tradition for us! A beautiful drive with amazing tacos on one end, and wineries on the other :)

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    That sounds amazing – such a lovely tradition. Tacos and wineries? Sounds like heaven! Room for a third?!

  • Love this trip! I read this post to simply verify what I know from my own past experiences :D Carmel is incredible, and a CA road trip is a must!!

    Taylor Hearts Travel 4 years ago Reply

    Thanks so much, Dana! I totally agree! Thanks stopping by – hope to see you again soon :D

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