Error message

  • Lingotek profile ID 4 not found.
  • Lingotek profile ID 3 not found.
Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips familyroadtrips

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips
Tips and ideas for taking the family on a Golden State getaway

California’s natural beauty and diverse attractions make it the perfect place to plan a family road trip. With so many places to see in one very large state there are multiple routes you can take to accommodate time limits and family interests. Guide your planning with these tips and then develop your itinerary with our California road trip ideas. 

1. Check car safety laws. Before you embark look at California’s car laws which include the following: children under two years old must sit in a rear facing infant seat in the back seat; children aged 8 and under should be buckled in with a booster or car seat; and those 8 and older (or who are at least 144 cm) just need to wear a seat belt.

2. Plan around rush hour. In the metro areas the 'rush hours' can start before 8 am in the morning and as early as 3 pm or 4 pm in the afternoon so map out your routes accordingl, or programme your GPS to take non motorway routes where you’ll see more variety and scenery anyway.

3. Need a break? For nicer toilet facilities-and a higher likelihood of finding changing areas for babies—and wider lunch or snack selections, consider pulling over at a shopping centre next to the motorway instead of stopping at a fuel station. Stopping at a shopping centre is also a good way to stretch your legs, pick up something you've forgotten to pack or to wait for heavy traffic to dissipate.

4. Call in at a California Welcome Center. Collect information about your next destination or activity, grab a free California Visitor’s Guide and give the children some brochures to peruse at one of the state’s California Welcome Centers

5. Budget for at least two days in the major cities. San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco are California’s three largest cities and each warrants a holiday on its own. But even during a road trip you should plan to stop for more than a day at these gateway cities to see the major sights on your bucket list.

6. Save with CityPASS. If you’re targeting multiple theme parks and museums consider a CityPASS ticket booklet to save money by bundling them together in Southern California and San Francisco.

7. Consider the best route. The trip down Highway 1 is the most famous in the state (and the country for that matter) but if you have children who get car sick easily, they might be sensitive to the twists and turns along the coast. The good news is that there are major highways that parallel Highway 1 for those who might need a straighter route.

8. Plan breaks. In advance of your trip find museums, historic small towns, state parks or beaches that are worth breaking your journey for every couple of hours. Pack a skipping rope or beach ball to get the children moving during the longer stretches or consider finding an easy footpath for a walk along the way.

9. See locations from a unique perspective. Water adventures are a California coastal must-do: learn to surf, go paddleboarding, kayak or take a whale-watching tour. Consider seeing part of the state on two wheels: hire bikes to ride up and down the coast, around town or across the Golden Gate Bridge.

10. Snack locally. California is an agricultural hub and you can often taste food straight from the source. Farmers’ markets abound in every region of the state and often offer live music and local crafts in addition to from the farmer produce. Skip the petrol station and stock up on fresh snacks from a market instead.

11. Bring interactive car entertainment. Create your own California themed puzzle for the drive at Depending on their ages give your children disposable cameras or let them use your digital one to document the California trip from their perspective, then create a scrapbook afterwards.

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips vc_homepage_sd_balboapark_1280x640_8
San Diego County, Balboa Park


All Dreams Welcome

Start Dreaming and Exploring Now
Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips LosAngeles_Hero_Killackey_1280x642_sized

See a film star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. At ...

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips VC_MasterChefAustralia_FoodTrucks_Food-Truck-Chef-Wes-Avila-and-MasterChef-Australia-Judges_1280x640
Spotlight: Los Angeles

From gourmet chefs experimenting with tacos to funky ice cream sandwiches, you might be surprised what you can find on the streets of L.A. Food trucks are a fun way to...

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips vca-hero-option2
Sam Valtenbergs/Getty Images

Travel Updates

Check out the latest California Updates

Coronavirus In California - Travel Information

Starting November 8, the United States and...

Discover the locations featured in our latest TV spot—from a fabled beachfront town to a drive-thru tree

In California, the open road is our anthem, and every road we travel is a promise. We’re filled with hope for what’s coming around the next corner. We’ve pledged our allegiance to a road-trip...

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips handsup_driving_crtr
Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips vc_crtr_borntobewild_module_mendocino_st_rf_623667652_1280x640
Kodiak Greenwood

Spotlight: Mendocino

Child-Friendly Guide to California Road Trips vca_maps_northcoast
Discover a coastal paradise with ridiculously fresh seafood, amazing wine, and craft beer

With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, this coastal hamlet is an obvious magnet for artists, romantics and...