While the drive itself may be short, a road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles can become more than a hop, skip, and jump for the RV lover. Expect a journey through picturesque parks and visits to cooling beaches. Get out to Death Valley or Joshua Tree national parks, surf at Mission Bay, or check out the nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter. Whether you decide on a weekend or a weeklong trip, you can fill every moment with wondrous experiences that remind you why traveling in an RV can’t be beat.
When you go on a San Diego to Los Angeles RV road trip, consider adding some of California's finest national parks to your travel itinerary. RVing offers a leisurely and entertaining way to embrace their majesty. You'll enjoy unimpaired environments in these national parks.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a wonder of rock stacks and boulders. Of course, Joshua trees also litter the landscape of hills and the brown Colorado and Mojave deserts. Among the most popular recreations are road cycling, desert hiking, and rock climbing. What the RVer will most appreciate, though, is setting up of chairs and taking in the night sky. A haven for drawing in multi-night campers, the overhead after-dark view is a Joshua Tree National Park attraction. You'll see planets, stars, and meteors if you're lucky.
Death Valley National Park
While not necessarily directly on the San Diego to Los Angeles road trip map, RVshare would be negligent to not mention Death Valley National Park. It’s four hours outside of LA, but the beauty of your RV is having complete control of the road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles. As far as we’re concerned, the opportunity to not take in the largest national park in the continental United States is criminal. You'll marvel at the wonders of salt flats, massive sand dunes, barren badlands, secluded canyons, snowcapped mountains, and volcanic craters.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
This is another San Diego to Los Angeles RV road trip option that's slightly off the beaten path. The positive trade-off is two parks in one. Once you see the grand dynamic of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, there will be no regrets. The parks boast massive mountains, deep canyons, and rugged trails. It's said you'll find the largest trees in the world here. Take the staircase climb up Moro Rock in Sequoia or do some cave hunting as there are over 200 here.
Besides the national parks you’ll encounter on a San Diego to Los Angeles RV road trip, you'll want to prepare for state parks and a range of activity and recreation along the way.
Crystal Cove State Park
A short drive from Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park has long stretches of sand and tide pools. The park boasts over 20 miles of backcountry hiking trails, including 3 miles of dog-friendly coastal trails. You can check out a historic district from the 1940s. The beach areas and backcountry are open daily, starting at 6:00 a.m. There’s inland mountain biking, scuba diving, and surfing.
Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park
Bordered by the cities of Lynwood and South Gate in southern Los Angeles, Watts Towers of Simon Rodia houses one of the state’s most prized, historic possessions. The Watts Towers, one of history’s sculptural wonders, combines architecture and art utilizing wire mesh, mortar, tile, glass, pottery, shells, rocks, and steel. The true stunner is seeing the towers and knowing a single man constructed them over three decades. You can visit anytime, but to see the garden and tour the recreational activities, get there during viewing times, Thursday through Sunday.
Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park offers equestrian riding, biking, camping, and hiking. The kids will enjoy the hummingbirds, and you'll likely encounter a wandering coyote—either in person or hearing the animal’s nightly howls. The park’s over three dozen trails offer mountain biking, trail running, and more. Hikers, nature lovers, and photographers enjoy Chino Hills State Park, which sits just outside of Anaheim.
Pio Pico State Historic Park
Everyone heads to Pio Pico State Historic Park for the beauty of its gardens and to take in the stunning restoration of an adobe mansion formerly occupied by Pio Pico, a beloved governor of early California before it joined the union. The park rests in a corner of Whittier. Since this city is also home to the Hellman Park Trailhead and Turnbull Canyon, your stop here will be a highlight of your road trip itinerary from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Mission Bay in San Diego is for the explorer in all of us. While it's known as a prime spot for relaxing sunbathing, the region is equally famous for its boardwalk amusement park with a carousel, arcade, and classic wooden roller coaster. Enjoy some of the area’s finest tacos and ice cream stands. Be sure to also take in the specialty boutiques.
Located in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND is a fantastic and colorful paradise for people of all ages. Visitors get family rides, building workshops, live shows, and more all grounded in and structured with LEGO's trademark classic bricks. Themed areas include Miniland USA, Fun Town, Land of Adventure, Pirate Shores, and Imagination Zone.
South of Carlsbad, Encinitas is one of the many idyllic beach towns populating Southern Cali. This one represents the epitome of a California surf town. It’s laid-back with good vibes and seaside charm, and it's littered with hip restaurants, upbeat cafes, and shops. The beach is quiet, perfect for a few hours of lounging.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
This is the first stop inland on the Pacific Coast Highway on Dana Point. The Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 as part of 21 missions established in what was then called Alta California. As San Juan Capistrano is the largest of the missions, its fascinating history can be discovered through a self-guided audio tour.
Your road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles will take you across a variety of destinations worth popping into. Southern California is filled with interesting communities that are home to great campgrounds and convenient dump stations.
Mission Viejo has Mission Viejo Lake, the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, and fun and games at Laser Quest. A Hidden Vine is perfect for couples looking to sit back with a glass of vino and enjoy some quiet time. There are over 100 campgrounds located around the city, ensuring you'll find convenient parking to meet your plans.
Anaheim is likely one of the most popular cities in the world. That’s because it’s the home to sites like Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. The city has a vibrant nightlife, and sports fans get a thrill seeing iconic sites like Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the Honda Center. As for campgrounds, there are many within minutes of the city's top attractions. If you stay at Anaheim RV Park, you'll have access to a dump station as well as shuttles that will take you straight to Disneyland.
This is Southern California at its best. Oceanside has fun attractions like the California Surf Museum and the Buccaneer Beach Park. Let’s not forget its biking, skating, and jogging opportunities or the 6-mile stretch of frontal beach roads. Go deep-sea fishing, whale watching, or diving. This city is lauded for its outstanding golf courses. Nearby campgrounds include Oceanside RV Resort and Guajome Regional Park. These options offer dump stations to visitors.
If you're planning a San Diego to Los Angeles road trip, turn it into the vacation of a lifetime via an RV. If you don’t have an RV in the driveway but want to find out the convenience and cost savings of traveling in a recreational vehicle, give RVshare a peek. Our seasoned riders will show you how to turn any road trip into an adventure laced with memories.