Are We There Yet? – California Dreamin’

With so many different landscapes all in one state, there's nothing better than a California roadtrip.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

There's one thing I have always wanted to do when I've hit the west coast, and that's drive a stretch of California state. And I was even more drawn to embark on such an adventure when I read about these incredible treks, as presented by the California Travel and Tourism Commission. If you love being behind the wheel then you might want to check out a few Golden State road trip routes:


Drive the Palms and Pines in Southern California
Start: Oceanside
Finish: Alpine
Distance: 210.6 miles

Experience a topographical triathlon driving through the palms and pines of California’s diverse landscape, from the coast, through the mountains to the desert. Drive from Oceanside to Palm Springs, with detours to the Anza Borrego State Park and Joshua Tree National Park, it’s a journey through time and terrain. In Idyllwild, climb into the high country on the Devil’s Slide Trail in the Mount San Jacinto State Park, and visit Cabazon’s own Jurassic Park – kitschy roadside dinosaurs. Visit the California Welcome Center at Oceanside for even more suggestions.


Redwood Heritage on California’s Northern Coastline
Start: Crescent City
Finish: Mendocino
Distance: 259.6 miles

The Avenue of the Giants is a driver’s favourite along this road trip route. For 31 miles starting in tiny Scotia, drive amongst the nation’s largest and most magnificent trees, the stately redwoods of Northern California. Join ranger-led expeditions at Redwood National Park in Orick, where stately Roosevelt Elk graze the meadows, then explore the elegant coastal towns near Mendocino. Garden and art lovers will both enjoy the peaceful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’ new sculpture park. Get local tips on things to do at the California Welcome Center
in Arcata.


Explore California’s historic Gold Rush Country on Highway 49
Start: Lodi
Finish: Oroville
Distance: 164.7 miles

Pan for gold along historic Highway 49, but the tasting rooms of some of the Golden State’s newest wineries along the Lodi Wine Trail will tempt travelers to swap a pan for a wine glass. Paddle in the wild yet beautiful Yuba River along the way in Nevada City, or see where the Gold Rush began at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park in Colima. The California Welcome Center at Auburn offers suggestions for other enticing stops along the route.


SoCal’s 100 Miles of Beach
Start: San Diego
Finish: Long Beach
Distance: 109.3 miles

Find 100 miles of beach between San Diego and Long Beach, with something to appeal to all ages, along the route. Dive into the undersea world at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach or play at Legoland in Carlsbad; stop at the Wedge, Newport Beach’s famous bodysurfing spot, or head to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, where 200 bird species can be found.  Combine a trip to Sea World or the San Diego Zoo with fabulous dining in Little Italy. The California Welcome Center in Oceanside is an ideal stop to ensure a balance among surfing, kayaking, Ferris wheels and beachcombing.


See Big Sur Coast on iconic Highway 1
Start: Monterey
Finish: Pismo Beach
Distance: 160.1 miles

Designated as California’s first scenic highway and a National Scenic Byway, Highway 1 lures travelers with its ever-changing cliffs, pounding surf, spouting whales and dramatic skyscapes. This scenic highway winds along the dramatic Big Sur Coast, from Moss Landing to Big Sur, with lunar-like dunes giving way to sheer mountain cliffs rising from the ocean to the majestic coastal mountain range.

To download a copy of the 2011 California Road Trips guide, visit:

So get driving!


Bon Voyage,



Jenn Cox is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. Visit her website or email her at