If you love the coast, a trip from San Diego in Southern California to San Jose in Northern California's Bay Area is a great idea. If you go on a San Diego to San Jose road trip by RV, you'll also have the opportunity to see several state and national parks that showcase the beauty of inland California. Along the way, you’ll pass through several charming towns and vibrant cities. While you can complete the drive in under eight hours, consider setting aside more time to experience the scenery and people of this part of the state.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park may not be on the direct route, but with 1,200 miles of desert littered with various cacti and alien-looking yucca tree species, it's worth considering as a side trip. Hiking is a popular pastime at Joshua Tree – just be sure to wear lots of protection from the sun since the area is known to experience temperatures into the low 100s. You can also go mountain biking and spot various desert creatures. For those looking for a simpler trip, there are picnic areas and multiple visitors' centers.
Death Valley National Park
Another national park with plenty of desert landscape, Death Valley National Park provides some truly captivating experiences for an RV enthusiast. Make sure you visit the Badwater Basin region. Well-known as the lowest point in the contiguous United States, this spot is home to some truly unique animal species and is 282 feet below sea level. At certain times of the year, wildflowers blossom in the area, and be sure to set aside time to check out the unique salt flats that spread throughout Death Valley.
Sequoia National Park
Named for the most prominent species of tree found in the area, Sequoia National Park is a beautiful forestland park to visit as you travel on your San Diego to San Jose RV road trip. The park's beautiful location, tucked into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, makes it picturesque, and nearby Hume Lake is a great place for kayaking and swimming. In fact, for those who love hiking and rock climbing, the Sierra Nevada mountain range features the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney.
Pinnacles National Park
The closest national park to San Jose, Pinnacles boasts unique landscape and a variety of wildlife. The park was formed through volcanic eruptions millions of years in the past, giving the park its namesake pinnacles and quirky looking rocks. The park is a key place in the recovery of the California condor species, and you may still see the huge birds flying around the area.
Anza-Borrego State Park
The first state park to visit as you make your way on your road trip from San Diego to San Jose is Anza-Borrego. This is a desert-based state park, so be sure to pack the gear you need to be comfortable. California's largest state park, Anza-Borrego spans 585,930 acres, and is home to some truly unique wildlife. Cool features of the state park are the desert sculptures that dot the landscape.
Chino Hills State Park
Just a short trip from Anaheim, Chino Hills State Park is known for its verdant landscapes. Rolling hills filled with wildflowers, like poppies, are common in Chino Hills, so this is a great location to visit for families with smaller children. The temperatures are also very moderate all year long, so hiking, biking, or even horseback riding can be enjoyed at this state park whenever you pass through.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Once you reach Riverside County, plan a stop at Mount San Jacinto State Park. This is a park with a long history; it dates back to the 19th century, and many of the landscapes look the same as they did back in the 1890s. Like Chino Hills, Mount San Jacinto experiences relatively moderate weather all year, so this is a great location to visit whenever the urge takes you. Don’t forget to bring a camera; the granite peaks and forestland of Mount San Jacinto are well worth some epic photography.
Mount Diablo State Park
If you’re going to be visiting Mount Diablo State Park, it’s important to note that it’s a bit north of your final destination of San Jose. In fact, it will extend your trip by a relatively short 56 miles. Fortunately, this is well worth the extra driving because the park is a scenic place to visit for families. For example, you can drive up the majority of Mount Diablo, which features a wide swath of memorable vistas. Just remember that the road is somewhat small, so larger RVs may not be able to make the journey.
Jacumba Hot Springs
If you want to truly relax on your journey, stop at Jacumba Hot Springs. This unincorporated community is worth a visit as it has two hot springs that are fed by natural mineral springs. These springs have a steady temperature of 98 degrees year-round, and there are several resorts and spas in the area for your family to experience.
La Jolla Cove
Surfing is a major pastime of the visitors to La Jolla Cove, so make sure you bring your board. You’ll be hitting La Jolla before you even leave San Diego, and it makes for an excellent start to a trip like this. If you don’t like to surf, there are plenty of water-related activities to engage in at the beach. For example, there’s kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkeling, and you can rent watercraft. La Jolla is surrounded by scenic cliffs, and the beach itself stretches for miles.
While you’re traveling up the coast, consider a day trip to the majestic Catalina Island. Home to the town of Avalon, Catalina Island is also a place where you can zipline, go on undersea expeditions, and head out clubbing at night. The island also hosts the yearly Catalina Wine Mixer, which got its start as an event in the movie "Step Brothers." Every year, enthusiasts get together at this event and sample the region’s wines.
Situated just south of Los Angeles, Anaheim is known for being a theme park paradise with Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. The city is also home to sports teams like the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Angels. If you’re a foodie, check out the Anaheim Packing District. The wide range of cuisines sold includes cheeses and wines from throughout California and the country and international fare such as dishes from India and Vietnam.
The city also has multiple excellent campgrounds where your family can set up camp. Anaheim RV Park has full hookups, 111 RV sites, and both back-in and pull-through spaces. There are even shuttles that ferry RV travelers to and from Disneyland.
Although it's off the direct route to San Jose, this area of California is famous for its Hot Springs. In fact, if you were trying to make multiple relaxing stops, Palm Springs is only 144 miles from the Jacumba Hot Springs. Palm Springs is also home to some very non-spa-related activities. For example, you can see the surrounding area from above by using the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It’s the largest rotating tramway in the world and has been active since the 60s.
Palm Springs campgrounds are also plentiful for those with motorhomes and trailers. Some good examples include Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort and Cathedral Palms. Both have full hookups and numerous pull-through and back-in sites. There are also numerous dump stations for when you need to offload your gray and black water.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Diego to San Jose, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in San Diego or San Jose.