The Ultimate California Road Trip
San Francisco, Los Angeles & San Diego
Embark on a true California road trip unlike any other. Journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Hollywood sign, and from the redwoods up in NorCal to the palms down in SoCal.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS PROGRAM IS PLANNED FOR SUMMER 2024. IT IS NOT RUNNING DURING SUMMER 2023.
- Visit iconic places such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, and Santa Monica Pier
- Hike through the redwoods on California’s central coast and visit the hidden enclave of Big Sur
- Enjoy beach time like a true Californian, and try your hand at surfing or sea kayaking
- Explore one of the world’s largest zoos and aquariums, and spend a day at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Learn about coastal ecosystems and what makes California unique
- Experience three iconic California cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego
The Ultimate California Road Trip
Wind your way down (Session 1) or up (Session 2) the Pacific Coast Highway and explore the best of California’s cities, beaches and mountains.
Start in San Francisco and its many iconic landmarks, including the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge and the historic Alcatraz Island.
From there, embark on a classic California road trip, taking to the coastal roads and heading from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, Big Sur and Santa Barbara.
Then head to Los Angeles and walk among the stars. See the Hollywood sign, experience the vibrant and high energy Santa Monica Pier, and take a day trip to Universal Studios!
Finally, end your trip in Southern California’s southernmost point, San Diego. Have an adventure at the San Diego Zoo, one of the top-rated wildlife centers on the planet. Discover the ins and outs of the cultural hub of San Diego, Balboa Park. And soak in the sunshine in what is widely considered the city with the best climate in the country
REGION: NORTH AMERICA
COUNTRY: UNITED STATES
CITY: LOS ANGELES
CITY: SAN DIEGO
CITY: SAN FRANCISCO
The Ultimate California Road Trip
AT TEEN TRAVEL NETWORK, YOU'RE NOT ONLY TAKING A JOURNEY IN MILES, BUT A JOURNEY OF SHARED EXPERIENCES AND SELF-DISCOVERY.
THIS ITINERARY IS AN APPROXIMATION OF THE OVERALL PROGRAM EXPERIENCE. THE ORDER OF ACTIVITIES ON YOUR TRIP MAY CHANGE.
IF A PARTICULAR SCHEDULED EXPERIENCE IS CANCELED, WE MAY REPLACE IT WITH AN ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITY.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome! We’ll get acquainted as a group and settle in to our first accommodations. Learn about San Francisco’s history and how it functions as a cultural center. Enjoy a special welcome meal and head to bed early to rest up for the next day’s activities.
*Please note that the following itinerary is for Session 1 only. Session 2 will have an identical itinerary, but will start in San Diego and end in San Francisco.
Day 2: San Francisco
Get an early start — there is so much to see! Visit the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and take in the spectacular views all around the bay.
Then, spend the afternoon at the scenic and expansive Golden Gate Park, with over a thousand acres of lawns, gardens, ponds and monuments to explore.
Take a drive down Lombard Street, known for its hairpin turns and steep incline of the kind that San Fran is famous for.
Day 3: San Francisco
Today we will tour Alcatraz, a former island prison in San Francisco Bay that was the ultimate high-security prison in the early 1900s, before it was finally closed in the 1960s.
Next, we’ll check out the bustling Pier 39, a popular destination for locals and travelers form all around the world, and pick up some souvenirs and snacks. After all, San Francisco is famous for its top-notch food scene!
Finally, hike through green trails and take in incredible views on Angel Island, the largest island in the Bay.
Day 4: San Francisco → Santa Cruz
Today, we’ll head north via private bus — first stop, Santa Cruz!
This seaside town is best known for its beautiful beaches, surfing and rolling hills of redwood forests. Check out the Santa Cruz Wharf, with its restaurants, entertainment and shops you won’t find anywhere else in California.
We’ll a;sp visit Lighthouse Field State Beach, a gorgeous recreational area of lush green succulents and white sand typical of Northern California beaches.
In the evening, settle in to the night’s accommodations and enjoy dinner as a group; spend your downtime playing games, getting to know our fellow students, or recharging.
Day 5: Santa Cruz → Big Sur
Hike through the majestic old-growth redwoods at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park.
Redwood trees can grow up to 300 feet tall and are only found in Southern Oregon and California. These majestic plants are the most massive lifeforms on earth, and tower over everything under them.
Learn about the redwood forest ecosystems that are unique to this region, and how these threatened trees are critical to the health and survival of nearby habitats.
Next, we will begin our drive down to Big Sur. On the way, stop at the famous Monterey Aquarium, where we will be able to see and learn more about central California’s abundant coastal wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.
Day 6: Big Sur
Big Sur is truly a magical place, with its misty coastline and cerulean waters.
The best way to explore this area is on foot: take a hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, through towering redwoods and lush greenery.
Explore the Big Sur River Gorge and take a dip to cool off. See McWay Falls, a picturesque waterfall emptying into the ocean.
There’s a reason Big Sur is considered a sacred spot among locals; it’s not the kind of place the average tourist visits. Check out this truly authentic, one-of-a-kind spot in coastal California and set yourself apart from most other travelers!
Day 7: Big Sur → Santa Barbara
Continue our journey down Highway 1 as we make the leisurely four-hour drive from Big Sur to Santa Barbara, stopping along the way to take in the views.
We’ll pass quaint towns, historic lighthouses, small farms, and rocky beaches on our way to our next destination.
The quintessential American road trip really became a trend in California. Discover the beats of life driving alongside some of the most scenic roads in the United States along the way, to really capture that slice of true Californian life on the road!
Day 8: Santa Barbara
Today we will explore Santa Barbara, a special city with strong Spanish colonial heritage that is reflected in its architecture.
White buildings with red tiled roofs and the Santa Ynez mountains in the distance give Santa Barbara a unique look.
Visit the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve, a rookery south of the city where seals come to breed, and learn more about wildlife conservation efforts.
In the evening, do a bit of shopping in the city’s vibrant downtown area.
Day 9: Santa Barbara → Los Angeles
It’s time to get back on the bus: we’re Los Angeles bound!
There is no shortage of bucket list items in California’s largest city.
Do some sightseeing in Hollywood, including Hollywood Boulevard, the high-end shopping mecca Rodeo Drive, and Beverly Hills.
Visit the bright and vibrant Santa Monica Pier and with a little luck, ride Pacific Wheel, the world’s only solar-powered Ferris Wheel.
LA has been a dream destination for travelers for well over a century now. Today’s your chance to discover why!
Day 10: Los Angeles (Universal Studios)
It’s not a trip to LA without a little adventure — Universal Studios, here we come!
Spend the day riding the rides and exploring the theme park’s attractions, including various shows, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a real working film studio.
The park has been in operation since the 1960s, and is one of the oldest operating theme parks in the U.S.
Shows, food, scenic vistas and a behind-the-scenes looks at filmmaking are all on the itinerary on this fun day at Universal.
Day 11: Los Angeles → San Diego
Today we’ll take the scenic route from Los Angeles to San Diego.
En route, spend time with friends or simply take the opportunity to reflect and enjoy the coastal scenery.
We’ll stop along the way to check out some quaint towns in Orange County and take in some breathtaking ocean views. After all, this is one of the most breathtaking stretches of freeway road in the country. Sure, you could take a nap, but we consider this stretch of the road trip as not to be missed.
Day 12: San Diego
Welcome to San Diego!
Situated on the coast just an hour drive from the border with Mexico, San Diego is influenced heavily by Mexican culture; it is also known for its excellent surfing and near-perfect weather.
Today we will visit La Jolla Cove, where students can choose whether to try their hand at surfing or sea kayaking. Watch the sealions and pelicans in their natural habitat; if you’re lucky, you may even spy some harbor seals sunning themselves on the beach.
Then, relax in the sand and enjoy San Diego’s incredible climate, frequently rated the best in the entire United States.
Day 13: San Diego
On our last day together, visit the world-class San Diego Zoo, which is known for its wildlife education and conservation efforts. It is frequently named one of the best zoos and wildlife centers on the planet.
The San Diego Zoo is home to over 600 species and spans 100 acres in San Diego’s expansive and diverse Balboa Park, which we will also explore.
See the Japanese Garden, atrium, and street performers/vendors that make this piece of San Diego special.
Finally, come together for a farewell dinner to celebrate all we have learned and experienced together the past two weeks.
Day 14: Departure
Sadly, our adventure has come to an end.
Take in those last views of the San Diego skyline, and soak in those final rays of California sunshine before departing.
And of course, be sure to say goodbye to the amazing new friends you made along the way!
Staff will accompany students to the airport and help them check in for their flights home.
The Ultimate California Road Trip
Dates & Tuition
14-Day Travel Program
|Planned for 2024…|
Tuition Includes All Major Program Expenses, Such As:
- 24/7 parent support hotline during the program
- Secondary medical and evacuation insurance
- Cultural activities, tours and excursions
- Pre-departure materials and support
- Educational materials
- Airport pick-up/drop-off
- Local transportation to each destination
- Secure overnight lodging at each location
- 3 meals per day
- Professional full-time staff and experts