Get ready to roll. With its mild climate, outstanding highway system, and nonstop-gorgeous scenery, California stands out as the perfect place for a road trip. And renting a car here is about as easy as it gets. Whether your trip itinerary is a statewide tour of California’s greatest hits, an all-in-the-family visit to iconic theme parks, or an off-the-beaten-track adventure, there’s a vehicle to match your mood and style—snazzy convertibles, family-friendly vans, rugged SUVs and pickups that can handle all types of conditions (including snow), even campers and RVs. All with good road assistance and optional insurance policies.
Car rentals are available throughout the state; most major companies have locations at the larger airports and in convenient city locations. To rent a car in California, you must be at least 25 years old (in most cases) and have a valid driver's license and credit card (used as a security deposit). Non-U.S. citizens must have passports. Rates may vary, with factors including location, car size and style, accessories (a child safety seat or in-car GPS, for example, may be extra), and the day of the week that you rent. Picking up and dropping off a vehicle at different locations can also increase rates. For the best deal, try booking a car at the same time you reserve your flights.
We've compiled a list of reputable companies with rental outlets statewide. Check charges in advance; there are lots of options including insurance coverage and extras, so be sure you get what you need and know what you’re paying for before you drive away. Companies may also offer a pre-pay fuel plan with discounted prices, worth considering if you know you’re likely to use up at least one full tank of gas.
If you’ve never driven in the state, you may want to read through this brief overview of statewide laws and rules of the road before getting behind the wheel. To find out about any road closures, travel alerts or updates on conditions, visit Caltrans.