Los Angeles and San Diego are two of the biggest and most popular cities in all of California. The drive between these two hubs takes around two hours and uses Interstate 5 South to get you where you need to go. Along this route is a wealth of things to do and see from beautiful cities like Santa Ana and San Clemente to the gorgeous rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean as they hit the many beaches dotting the coastline. Whether you plan to make some stops along the way on your Los Angeles to San Diego road trip or do it all in one straight shot, you'll have a fun time thanks to how attractive the view is in the state as well as the many activities an RV affords you while you're cruising down the highway.
Despite the fairly short distance between the two cities, the road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego puts you within driving distance of several national parks in California. If you're looking to get a little more in touch with nature on your vacation, there are several parks you should definitely check out along the way.
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park was established in 1980 and consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of California. This already makes it fairly unique compared to other parks, with the many amazing sights and sounds you'll encounter turning it into a truly unforgettable experience. From whale watching to swimming with marine life to learning about the local history at the visitor center, it's well worth the detour to experience everything the area has to offer.
Joshua Tree National Park
Named for the tree native to the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places to see these unique trees in the wild. At over 1,200 square miles of land, it's one of the largest national parks you'll encounter within the state of California with a wealth of activities to pursue. In addition to visiting some of the towering Joshua trees, you can also admire the huge mountains and intriguing rock formations dotted throughout the landscape. You might even see a roadrunner escaping a coyote if you're lucky.
Sequoia National Park
At Sequoia National Park, you'll have the opportunity to experience a sight like no other when you encounter the giant sequoia trees in all their majesty. The largest trees by volume in the entire world, they serve as the focal point and main attraction for this 631-square mile plot of land. This includes the current largest tree in the entire world, the General Sherman tree. Trees aren't all this park has to show you, though, as the Crystal Cave tours are a must-see. There's a ton of fun winter activities to partake in when the snow starts to fall, too.
In addition to national parks, there are also plenty of state parks you can visit in California. Often less crowded but no less exciting, visit some of these parks if you're looking for some serious outdoor fun during your trip.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a 2,000-acre state park in the San Diego area. Despite technically being within city limits, traveling to Torrey Pines is like entering an entirely different world. Known for its many grassy plateaus and the great view of Torrey Pines State Beach, there's plenty to experience when you come here, including the exceedingly rare Torrey pine from which the park gets its name.
San Clemente State Beach
When you visit San Clemente State Beach, you're getting a great balance between the wild and civilization. Located right outside the city of San Clemente, it's easy to stop by the beach for the day while you're in the city doing other things. The beach is popular among sports enthusiasts for the tall waves, fierce winds, and gorgeous sunsets, so anyone who's ever dreamed of hanging 10 should definitely make the trip out to experience the surf.
Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park is a gorgeous natural space located near several major cities. With the park being a much-needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life, you'll see some of the most amazing scenery anywhere in the world when you stop for a visit. Rolling green hills speckled with wildflowers make for a sight that has to be witnessed in person.
Laguna Beach is the name of both the seaside resort city and the beach the city was created around. Renowned for its beauty and the many fun tourist activities and festivals you can find within the city, Laguna Beach is a must-see for anyone who might be driving by the area. When it comes to the beach specifically, there's a ton of history to explore thanks to the mark the city has left on the world of surfing. The Brooks Street Surfing Classic that started in 1955 and continues to this day is one of the longest-running surfing contests in the world.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
The Mission San Juan Capistrano is one of the oldest and most popular tourist attractions in all of Orange County. Set up in 1776 by Saint Junipero Serra of Spain, the mission stands today as an opportunity to learn about the local history of California as well as colonization by the Spanish in Alta California and Northern Mexico. Guests who come for a visit can explore on their own to admire the architecture and artifacts or take part in a guided audio tour that lends some structure and additional knowledge to the journey.
Ocean Beach Dog Beach
Ocean Beach's Dog Beach is a dog lover's paradise. A wide stretch of sand and surf within the city of Ocean Beach, this place is unique in that both humans and canines are equally welcome to have fun. Dogs can go off-leash to run around, meet other dogs, and generally have the time of their lives playing for hours and hours.
Santa Ana is one of the most populous cities in Orange County and packed with things to do. The city is home to tons of museums, art and science centers, delicious local restaurants, and the Santa Ana Zoo to name just a few of the things you might want to try. There are also several RV campgrounds you might consider staying at if you're looking to extend your road trip.
Anaheim is a popular tourist spot in California for good reason: It's the home of Disneyland. Soak up the sun at the beach, visit some of the resorts, see what major event is taking place at the Convention Center, or check out a Ducks or an Angels game. You'll also have the option of staying overnight at an RV campground if you'd like.
San Clemente is located at just about the midpoint between LA and San Diego, a fact that makes it the perfect place to stop over and rest during your long road trip. While you're there, you'll be able to enjoy a number of famous surfing spots like Riviera, Trestles, T-Street, and more. San Clemente is also known for being a reliable location for filming television and movies as well as the home of several notable actors and athletes. This makes for a great variety of places to see around town that you might recognize from TV and movie screens.
Having a detailed road trip itinerary from Los Angeles to San Diego is invaluable if you plan to make the trip. It's also helpful to have a reliable RV by your side to make traveling that much easier and more fun, especially when it comes to finding a place to sleep at night. For anyone who doesn't own a recreational vehicle, check out RVshare and its numerous rental RV listings in your area to set you on your way to a Los Angeles to San Diego RV road trip and the adventure of a lifetime.