This was a 3 week road trip taking in as many iconic sites as possible with a few relaxing days here and there so we weren't on the road every single day. Start in LA, drive out to the Grand Canyon via an overnight in Yermo (just outside Barstow), stop off in Lake Havasu for lunch on the way. From there work back to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam, back across to pick up Highway 1 at Malibu. Follow all the way up the coast, over the Golden Gate bridge and on to Napa, then back into San Francisco. Total mileage was 2000.7 miles! You need 3 weeks for this really, or cut out Vegas and the Grand Canyon to do it in 2.
A great day. Make sure you book ahead of time on the website and get early entry as it gets very busy very quickly. Make sure you take the studio tour on the tram. Also, the Waterworld show must be 20+ years old by now but is still one of the best live shows there.
Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA, US
Either drive there yourself or go on a cheesy Hollywood tour. The location here isn't quite right - have a look on Google Maps for Hollywood Bowl Overlook at the end of Macapa Drive on the corner of Mulholland. Fantastic views of the city and the Hollywood sign.
7018 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, US
Cheesy, tacky but a must-do for all tourists. Seems to be much cleaner and feels safer than it used to when I was there 20 years ago. Don't forget to walk up to the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre.
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA, US
Worth a visit even if art galleries aren't really your thing. Great location and views.
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, US
Walk down the pier so you can take a picture under the Route 66 sign and say you've been to the end of it. Have a walk up and down the beach too and spend some time people watching at Muscle Beach - it's all quite bizarre.
35654 Rd, Yermo, CA, US
Great 50's diner. Yermo is basically a truck-stop just outside Barstow but is a great overnight location to set off to the Grand Canyon from. Feels like a proper American diner should. Some great pictures on the wall of various celebrities who's visited the diner over the years. Fantastic Burgers!
25 Acoma Blvd N, Lake Havasu City, AZ, US
Another great Diner. I recommend the Hot Rueben! A little tricky to find but worth it.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona, United States
What a gem in the middle of nowhere! London Bridge is amazing - how they moved that from London into the middle of the Arizona desert I'll never know.
450 AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, US
Amazing. The South Rim is really well set up for tourism but somehow hasn't been spoiled. Take a trip up to the Desert View Watchtower for more great views.
Hoover Dam Access Rd, Boulder City, NV, US
If you're going to Las Vegas make sure stop off here. Amazing engineering. Watch out for the heat though, it's like being in an oven.
Not everyone's cup of tea by any means, but you've got to go just to see how crazy the place is. You don't need more than a couple of days here though unless you're a hardcore gambler.
Airport Rd, Furnace Creek, CA, US
Amazing scenery unlike anywhere else (except the moon, perhaps), especially as you drive out the west side into Panamint Springs.
40440 Highway 190 32 Miles West of Stovepipe Wells, CA, US
Great little diner here the other side of Death Valley. I highly recommend the Death Valley Rootbeer too!
Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles, CA, US
Iconic road going up the cost from LA to San Francisco (though it changes to the Cabrillo Highway further up). We hired a convertible Mustang for the trip but at one point on this road every other car we saw was also a convertible Mustang! Still, it gives you a great view of the scenery from the road.
32350 El Matador Beach Rd, Malibu, CA, US
Nice pretty little beach. Easy access, plenty of parking.
750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA, US
Don't want to pay the ridiculous entry fees to Hearst Castle? Stop off here (just off Highway 1) and take a picture of the estate, just make sure you have a good zoom lens! Great views from the end of the pier up the coast.
47520 Hwy 1, Big Sur, CA, US
We stumbled across this place by accident. Don't be fooled by the looks outside - it's a great little bar with a hidden terrace out the back serving great sandwiches. Perfect for a quick lunch stop on the way up the coast.
26270 Dolores St, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, US
Rescued by Clint Eastwood apparently, the Mission Ranch in Carmel has a really nice restaurant attached. We had a fantastic steak here and the prices were reasonable too. Highly recommended.
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, US
I wasn't too sure about seeing fish couped up in tanks, but it's done really well and doesn't feel like a Zoo. It's great to see all the schoolkids here taking an interest in preserving marine life.
400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA, US
It might have looked a bit tired when we visited in May before the peak season, but it's still worth an hour or two of your time if you're driving past.
There's so much more to see in California that we just didn't have time for. 4 or 5 weeks next time perhaps?