California RV road trip

Last updated 8th June 2017

With a family ambition to explore the world whenever possible, we have enjoyed some great travel adventures with our daughter Kitty over the last eight years, with the hope we are cultivating wanderlust in her too.

We managed to convince our daughter’s school to allow her out for a week, so adding this onto the Easter holidays, planned a three week road trip, starting in Los Angeles and finishing in San Francisco. We mapped out an ambitious and fast-paced route taking in the cities of LA, San Diego and San Francisco, the Californian desert, mountains and countryside and of course, the legendary coastline.

An RV holiday is perfect for families with a sense of adventure and those who want to explore. The beauty of this type of trip is that you can choose to see and do exactly what appeals to you.

Settling in

Picking up the RV from Cruise America we were shown around our 24 foot-long home on wheels and talked through the essentials, such as how to fill water and gas and how to empty the tanks. Our RV was perfect for our family of three, with a double bed in the back, kitchen and dining areas, a toilet and shower. Kitty especially loved having her bed and very own den above the driving cab. As soon as we were satisified we had asked all the right questions we were on the road and heading south – first stop, San Diego.

The first day in the RV was all about finding our feet – getting confident on the road with the size of the vehicle, driving to the first site, unpacking and shopping for supplies, which is all fun and feels like playing houses. By the first evening we were well settled, happily toasting marshmallows on a camp fire and enjoying being in the great outdoors.

After time in San Diego and visiting the impressive collection of museums of Balboa Park our route then took us inland and driving through the stunning landscapes of the Californian dessert, brand new and very exciting territory for us.

Californian desert

With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees when we visited in March, the climate here needs to be carefully considered. We managed the heat by exploring Joshua Tree National Park first thing in the morning and venturing out to walk in the wilderness at sunset, with the pool at the campsite providing the perfect place to cool down. The desolate beauty and vastness of the desert was spectacularly topped off each night with specacularly clear skies and we were rewarded with the best stargazing we had ever witnessed.

During our adventure we stayed in the lush forest of the Mount Jacinto National Park at Idyllwild, a picture perfect town we fell in love with log cabins, cute shops full of local produce, friendly faces and plenty of great places to eat and drink. We also had another great stay at another national park camp ground literally on the beach at Carpinteria.

Disney magic

We managed to squeeze some time for a day trip to Disney. In terms of ticket prices, this isn’t the most cost effective way of visiting the park and doesn’t give you enough time to do it all, but worked for us. To make the most of our day we headed to the park around midday and stayed until the very end, leaving at midnight, exhausted but with big smiles and lots of brilliant memories.

After a long day at Disneyland, we took the pace down a notch and headed back to the coast joining it North of LA.  Over the course of a week we gradually headed North on the legendary Route 1 hugging the Californian coast and stopping off at some beautiful places along the way.

At the end of our 3 week adventure, we sadly said goodbye to our amazing voyage with plans to return and a lifetime of memories.

Top tips

During our trip we pretty much stayed at two different types of campground – fully equipped resorts which included pools, shops, laundries and play areas and The National Parks which usually just had toilet and shower facilities but were in more scenic locations.

Research and book all campgrounds back home, so you have a smooth journey and avoids you getting lost. It also helps to secure some of the of the really special National Park sites which get booked up really early.

It is worth knowing that you can’t rent an RV on the day you land, so you need to have at least one night in the country before they will rent to you.

The lowdown

Price: Drive in fees start at £20 but for more details visit

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