A Taste of Everything: from city to mountains

Discover Laila’s travel profile and all her favorite trip itineraries.
We wanted to discover the southern part of California during summer 2016. We were amazed by the variety of landscapes and the continuously deep blue sky that we experienced during the two and a half weeks. We could travel from high mountain landscapes to the desert in 3 hours, or experience the lively Venice beach in the morning and western atmosphere east of Los Angeles in the afternoon. We mixed lodging facilities from hotels to house & RV rentals. Yosemite, even though it is crowded, is a must-see.
Photo @lailabog ©
5,5 hours direct flight
$460 per person
1600 km in 18 days
23 hours on the road – 7 stops
$1900 / pp for 16 nights all included
$900 /pp for 16 days (without breakfast)
$140 /pp for rental car & taxis
$400 for RV rental for 7 days /pp
$460 /pp 
Variety of scenery
Yosemite National Park
From desert to mountains in 3 h
LA and San Francisco City trip
Lodging and activities

RV rental: good to know
– We rented a RV for one week through, starting from San Francisco. We returned the RV in Los Angeles. An extra fee of 200$ was charged to pick up and drop off at a location.

– The RV was basic. Don’t expect tons of kitchen utensil or comfortable bedding linen.
– We rented a 30 feet RV for our family of 5. The size was perfect. I would not have taken a bigger one as most of the campsites accept
no RV bigger than 30 feet.

– If we had to rent a RV again we would probably use another company even though more expensive: Road Bear RV  for example.

A snapshot


Uber & Rental RV
1000 miles/1600 km in 18 days
23 hours on the road/7 stops
Stop 1, 2 & 8: Uber and rental car
Stop 3 to 7: RV Rental

40 miles/1h
San Francisco
  • We stayed at the northern waterfront of San Francisco in the Fisherman Wharf neighborhood. We found a perfect hotel for our teenager boys: Zefyr Hotel . The hotel had a really cool outside patio with a lot of games for the kids: ping pong, giant power 4 game, darts game in the rooms. The location is perfect to explore the attractions of the San Francisco Bay area.
  • We stayed 3 days in San Francisco including a one day trip to Sonoma Valley.  We could have stayed one more day in San Francisco as we didn’t had time to explore Muir’s wood and the Mission neighborhood.
    The first day, we took the famous cable car. We took it from Fisherman Wharfs area to Union Square. You can buy the tickets on-board, it costs 5$ each way per person. It was impressive!
    The second day, we rented bicycles for the whole family. We took breakfast at the beach at the northern San Francisco bay area, overlooking the Golden Bridge. Then we crossed the bridge and bicycled to Sausalito where we had lunch at Bar Booce . Delicious Pizza at the waterfront. You can literally eat on the beach. We took the ferry back to the Ferry Building.and bicycled back to Fisherman Wharfs. At the Ferry building, don;’t miss the local farmer market. This is a one day trip!

50 miles/1h30
Sonoma Valley

  • We rented a car in San Francisco  and drove to Sonoma valley. We spent the whole day exploring vineyards and did several wine tasting. At the visitor centers at the entrance of the Sonoma town, you can get coupons for “Pay for one, Get 2 wine tastings. 

    Our preferred vineyards was Bartholomew Park Winery. They offer picnic tables in a beautiful surroundings.

    Two nice addresses are B.R. Cohn Winery and Wellington vineyards , a small family owned winery, reasonably priced compared to all others.

160 miles/4h
  • We stayed in a campsite outside of the Yosemite NP, just a few miles from the entrance. The campground and the bathroom/shower facilities were very clean and well equipped. There was a shuttle bus leaving early to Yosemite NP and coming back late afternoon. Perfect as we didn’t need to drive along the crowded and narrow road to the NP and we had no parking hassle.

  • We stayed 2 nights in Yosemite and had one full day in the park. We could have easily planned one more day to do another hike in this awesome surrounding. 

    We did a one day hike that was quite challenging but just beautiful, amazing, magnificent ! The hike was called Vernal and Nevada Falls. We loved it: we hiked from one fall to another. Our only disappointment: we were annoyed by the bees and could not eat our picnic. 

    The second day, we departed early morning and drove along the scenic Tioga route (road nr 120) from Yosemite valley to Mammoth lakes via Lake Mono. This is a one day trip. We stopped on the way for picnicking and swimming along the Tenaya lake,  Tenaya lake has a beautiful white sandy beach with picnic faclities. Further down the road, we visited Lake Mono. It is really worth stopping there for the landscape.

100 miles/2h30
Mammoth Lakes
  • This was our preferred campground of the whole trip. We just loved the place, the settings and the area.This campground sits in a pine forest at an elevation of 8,900 feet.
    We went for a hike to Lake Georges and Horshoe lake. A very easy path to both lakes. At Lake Georges we just sat down and enjoyed the peaceful place. The kids went for a swim in very cold water. Hundreds of activities in the surroundings: visit

190 miles/3h
Red Rock Canyon
  • We stayed in the State Park of Red Rock Canyon . A beautiful campground site. Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors. 
    We arrived there late afternoon. Beware that it is too hot during the day in summertimes to hike. We grilled hamburger on the BBQ. It was an amazing experience as we were nearly alone in the park! We left after breakfast next morning.

200 miles/3h30
Oceano Dunes
  • We stayed at the RV campground Pacific Dunes Ranch Resort. unique RV resort in California’s Pismo Beach region, with rolling sand dunes and rollicking waves in the beautiful Oceano Preserve.
    We arrived late afternoon. We went sledding in the huge sand dunes.
    Next morning we had booked quads. Pismo beach is one of the only beach that is accessible to vehicles. An amazing experience to ride through this  5 miles sand dune road with your own quad. Average price per person: 80$ for 3 hours (you get one hour for free if you take an early start. 

150 miles/2h40
Malibu beach
  • We arrived late in the afternoon. We had a very nice drive from Oceano to Malibu, through Santa Barbara and Point Mugu State Park. We stayed in a very high end RV Campground. Very comfortable with clean and nice showers/bathrooms and an amazing view to the ocean.  The price of this campground was too high, around 150$ for one night!! But everything was fully booked so we had no choice…but at least it was very clean and comfortable. If we had to do it again, we would have stayed at Point Mugu state Park. Very nice RV campground on road 1, straight on the beach. Much cheaper than the one in Malibu. 
  • We arrived late and departed early next day.

20 miles/0h40
Venice Beach
  • We rented a small beach house in Venice, California. It was perfectly located 5 min walk to the beach, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, 30 minutes drive to Hollywood Boulevard & Beverly Hills and to LA panoramic view. Just be aware of the street noise when  you rent the house. We were quite disappointed by the street noise level. The house was perfect for a family of 5, perfectly located but too noisy.
    Norco. Horse City of California: we spent one day with family and friends in Norco, 40 minutes east from Venice beach. A real Western experience,: horse riding, saloon restaurant, countryside atmosphere with hens, roosters, dogs.

    Hollywood & Beverly hills:  the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Blvd, shopping in Western Hollywood, Melrose Boulevard and in the footsteps of Julia Roberts in Beverly Hills. We went to Griffith Observatory for the best panoramic view of LA and the famous Hollywood signage.

    Running in Venice Beach: the path going from Santa Monica to Marina Del rey is a perfect spot for running, You can run even further on this beach path until Torrance State Beach . Temperature is perfect and the view is amazing on the ocean.

    Beach life
    Shopping and eating on Abbot Kinney Boulevard


  • California can also be cold. In August, San Francisco is foggy in the morning and at sunset. Don’t forget sweaters and jumpers. In Mammoth mountains the nights are really cold even though temperatures are high during the day. Venice beach has a perfect day temperature but the ocean can be cold. Plan to bring a wetsuit for water activities.
  • When you take the ferry from Sausalito to the Ferry Building in San Francisco:  don’t arrive last minute for the ferry. The line was long
  • Foresee enough water when you are hiking in Yosemite NP. Bring good hiking shoes as well as a backpack. This is important to plan in your holiday luggage.
  • You should plan a one day trip to drive from Yosemite Valley to Mammoth Lake. There are many things to see on the way. Check “what we did section” for #4
  • Camping site: we preferred all state/national parks campgrounds vs private owned campgrounds. You will enjoy more natural surroundings, in the woods or the desert, not a RV parking on the asphalt, a real campsite!
  • In Malibu, we would have stayed at Point Mugu state Park campground. It is a very nice RV campground on road 1, straight on the beach. Much cheaper than the one we stayed in in Malibu