Packing up a Mustang and hitting the road in the US of A is a bucket list item for many, but where are the best road trip spots?
The US is a big place and the routes for memorable driving holidays are varied, so it can be overwhelming when selecting where to kick-start your adventure.
If you want to cut out flight changes and travel time on the way to your dream road trip, Qantas’ brand new Dreamliner route from Melbourne to San Francisco gives travellers direct access to one of the best places to begin your adventure.
Here are three incredible Californian road-trip destinations to explore, with something to appeal to everyone’s tastes:
North Lake Tahoe
Great for: snow bunnies, yogis and water-lovers
Distance from San Francisco: 320 kilometres / four hours by car
Great stop-offs: Sacramento – the state’s capital is undergoing an energetic renaissance
If you’re keen on nature, this is the spot for you. Boasting the largest concentration of alpine ski resorts in North America, there’s everything on offer from dogsledding to snowmobiling.
And if winter isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of great hiking and biking trails and a whole host of water sports.
Then you can balance out all that action with a refreshing beer along the North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail. It’s an interactive map that pairs outdoor adventures with frosty craft brews.
For a more spiritual getaway, North Lake Tahoe is the home to the original Wanderlust Festival, which means there’s countless breathtaking spots to perfect all your yoga postures and really connect with yourself and nature.
Great for: wine aficionados – move over, Napa Valley
Distance from San Francisco: Located just an hour’s drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge
Great stop-offs: Take a snap of the Golden Gate Bridge from one of the epic view-points on your way out
Sonoma County is the birthplace of California wine and has over 425 wineries, but don’t go thinking this is your regular wine region. Home to groves of California Coastal Redwood forests (take a hot air balloon for a unique view of these trees) and nearly 90km of coastline, providing a stunning backdrop to your wine tasting.
Great for: postcard perfect scenery everywhere you turn
Distance from San Francisco: 192 km / 2.5 hours by car via the scenic coastal route
Great stop-offs: Santa Cruz to check out the famous surf spot
The Monterey coastline might look very familiar if you were a fan of the TV show, Big Little Lies. Enveloped on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, the Monterey Peninsula has great wind-swept beaches and quiet coves, fine dining and casual eats, early history and post-modern art.
Don’t miss the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, with its psychedelic jellies and bat-ray petting tank. Then pop outside to explore the shops and restaurants along Cannery Row, made famous by local author John Steinbeck.
If you want to visit all the beautiful spots featured in Big Little Lies, head to Big Sur’s Bixby Bridge, Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, and McWay Falls. All of these spots are along Highway 1, which makes for a delightfully scenic road trip. Pop into Carmel Beach and walk on the white sand, then venture into the main town where you will find gallery-lined streets, cosy gastro-pubs and quaint inns.