A road trip from Texas to California is spectacular, and we share how to plan the perfect trip and the best places to stop on the way.
The US is arguably the best country in the world to head on a road trip, but some states are better suited to epic drives than others.
Traveling between Texas and California sits close to the pinnacle of the list in terms of both the variety of the landscapes you’ll encounter, as well as the opportunities for mid-journey adventures you’ll have.
You can hit up plenty of USA Bucketlist items, try all the delicious foods, and explore the fantastic National Parks.
Essentials for a long road trip
Packing appropriately can make your road trip from Texas to California more enjoyable. Here’s a list of essentials you should consider taking along:
- Navigation tools: Alongside a GPS or navigation app, pack physical maps in case of signal loss.
- Spare tire or emergency car kit: This includes jumper cables and basic tools.
- Snacks and water: Keep plenty of these on hand to avoid hunger pangs between stops.
- Travel pillows and blankets: These will provide comfort during rest breaks.
Also, remember that weather conditions can change drastically as you travel across states, so pack clothing accordingly.
Don’t forget important documents such as your driver’s license, vehicle papers, and roadside assistance contacts, which are often overlooked in the excitement of planning.
Even the vehicle you use matters in this context. Choosing carefully is a must to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free ride. You can find a used car from this car dealer that fits your plan, you’ll find an array of well-maintained vehicles ideal for long-distance travel.
By preparing well with the items above, you’re set up for an easier journey providing peace of mind throughout this memorable escapade!
Plan a Road Trip from Texas to California
Starting Your Journey: The Vibrant City of Austin, Texas
Texas is big, so you will need to stop at a few cities along your road trip.
Embarking on your epic road trip adventure could begin in the lively city of Austin. Famous for its thriving music scene (and being one of the best music cities in the USA) and delectable cuisine, it’s definitely worth spending a day or two here.
While in Austin, check out famous landmarks like the State Capitol and Zilker Park before treating yourself to widely-known barbecue joints or food trucks around town.
It’ll be a fantastic start to an unforgettable journey!
Discover the Cultural Richness in San Antonio, Texas
The next stop on your itinerary is San Antonio. Steeped in history and multicultural influences, this Texas gem caters to diverse tastes.
You can roam around the stunning River Walk lined with charming shops and cafes or journey into America’s past at The Alamo, an iconic symbol of Texas’ independence.
Lastly, immerse yourself in quirky art installations at the McNay Art Museum that are sure to leave a lasting impression as you prepare for what’s next on your travel agenda.
Delving into Desert Beauty at White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Escape city life and venture into remarkable landscapes at your third stop, White Sands National Park.
This park features an otherworldly panorama of pure white gypsum dunes stretching over 275 square miles. It’s a perfect place for memorable photos or to enjoy fun activities like sledding down the dunes!
If you stick around till evening, prepare for an impressive desert sunset that paints extravagant colors across the vast gypsum expanse. It’s truly a sight not to be missed on this epic road trip.
Explore the Artsy Vibes of Sedona, Arizona
Your road journey further unfolds in the enchanting town of Sedona. Known for its fine art galleries and red-rock buttes that morph color from dawn to dusk, it promises visual treats at every turn.
Take a leisurely stroll around Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village or embark on off-road adventures to explore desert trails.
Then, round off your visit by viewing a picturesque sunset over Cathedral Rock, an iconic symbol of Southwest USA, before gearing up for more excitement lying ahead.
Sedona is a fascinating place and can also be visited as a day trip from Las Vegas.
Arriving in Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park
An absolute must-visit while driving across the Southern states is the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.
Known for its jaw-dropping size and intricate color palettes, this national park poses as a glorious reminder of nature’s grandeur.
There are many ways you can travel from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon too.
Whether you’re engrossed in taking panoramic photos from lookout points or choosing to hike along the South Rim for a thrilling adventure, there’s no end to the captivating vistas here.
This natural marvel will undoubtedly leave you humbled and exhilarated as you continue your journey westwards.
Intriguing Insights Into History at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
Feel the gravity of human ingenuity as you arrive at your next destination, The Hoover Dam. This massive structure represents a pivotal moment in American history and is a testament to engineering greatness during the Great Depression.
As you stand atop this marvel, you’ll be gazing out over the serene waters of Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. And don’t forget to take snapshots against its impressive backdrop!
Thrills and Spills In Las Vegas: Not Just a Casino Town
When planning a road trip through the West, Sin City is an unavoidable pit stop. But there’s more to Las Vegas than casinos and nightlife and plenty of things to know before you go to Las Vegas.
Yes, you can gamble in the casinos if you wish but there are many non-gambling things to do in Las Vegas as well. For instance, you should visit the stunning neon museum displaying classic casino signs, or take in panoramic views atop the High Roller Observation Wheel (one of the more relaxing things to do in Las Vegas).
Also, don’t forget to catch an awe-inspiring fountain show at the Bellagio, soak up the jaw-dropping visuals of the Las Vegas Sphere, or catch a Cirque show; all romantic things to do in Las Vegas for couples.
Relishing Natural Wonders at Death Valley National Park
Your next pitstop, Death Valley National Park, is home to striking and diverse landscapes.
Known as the hottest, driest place in North America, don’t let its name fool you, as this peculiar park teems with abundant beauty.
You can marvel at the mystical salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, or admire a colorful canvas filled with sunset at Dante’s View.
Despite its challenging terrain, this extraordinary national park offers an unforgettable stopover on your Texas to California road trip.
Sampling World-Famous Vineyards in Napa Valley
Nearing the end of your trip, a visit to California wouldn’t be complete without stopping by its renowned wine region, Napa Valley, one of the most romantic places to visit in the USA.
You can wind down and indulge yourself as you sip on exquisite wines with picturesque vineyard views.
It’s even possible to tour some of the finest wineries, like Robert Mondavi or Sterling Vineyards while broadening your understanding of viticulture and winemaking techniques.
As you depart with a smile on your face, and perhaps a few bottles in the trunk, brace yourself for an exciting closure on your final stop.
Ending Your Perfect Road Trip in San Francisco: The Golden Gate to California
It’s a good move to cap off your unforgettable road trip in the lively city of San Francisco.
Wander along its colorful streets, sample international cuisines at Ferry Building Marketplace, or ride a classic cable car for some old-school fun.
And it goes without saying that a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge should top your itinerary!
This city’s fusion of cultures and vibrant arts scene creates an amazing end to your cross-state adventure, leaving you with lots of memories to cherish.
There are plenty of ways to travel around San Francisco so you can see the best San Francisco attractions during your visit; we personally recommend the hop-on, hop-off bus to avoid the struggle with parking but to get around and see all the sights in just a day or two.
How to Road Trip America
If you’ve been inspired to take a road trip from Texas to California, do remember to start your planning as early as possible. Giving yourself plenty of time to sort out things like your vehicle, your route and your stop-off points will make it a truly memorable journey, rather than just a functional way of getting from A to B.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.