Best Road Trips From Orange County

Whether you're craving the laid-back coastal vibes of San Diego, the awe-inspiring beauty of Yosemite, or the unique desert landscapes of Joshua Tree, there's a perfect road trip for every explorer from Orange County.

Top Road Trip Destinations From Orange County

Sort by:
Our rankings are based only on editorial opinion, not any commercial consideration.
Los Angeles, California, USA with the downtown skyline in the distance and palm trees in the foreground taken on a sunny day.

Los Angeles

🚗 40 miles ⏱️ 45 minutes

Looking for an urban adventure? Los Angeles has it all, from Hollywood glamour to iconic landmarks. Hang out at world-famous beaches, dive into the art scene, and enjoy top-notch dining.

This short drive will take you past the magical Disneyland in Anaheim and the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center before you reach LA.

Mountains in the background, with colourful hot air balloons in the air reflecting in the lake.


🚗 65 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 10 minutes

Temecula's wine country is a perfect escape. With rolling vineyards and award-winning wineries, you can enjoy wine tastings, hot air balloon rides, and explore the charming shops in Old Town.

On the way, you can relax at Glen Ivy Hot Springs or admire the stunning wildflowers at Lake Elsinore if you are doing this road trip in spring.

View of the waterfall from the ground below, sunny day in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

🚗 320 miles ⏱️ 5 hours, 40 minutes

Yosemite is one of the most beloved national parks in the country, and it is easy to see why. With its towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and giant sequoias. It is the perfect spot for hiking and taking stunning photos.

Heading inland towards Yosemite, you will get the opportunity to visit Santa Clarita, Bakersfield, and Fresno en route.

Crystal clear lake with trees and snow-capped mountains in the background

Lake Tahoe

🚗 470 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Lake Tahoe, famous for its gorgeous scenery, is a favorite destination for year-round fun. Ski in the winter, swim and boat in the summer, and enjoy the clear blue waters surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

On this amazing road trip, you can also make a detour to Death Valley National Park and spend some time in stunning Yosemite.

Downtown San Diego skyline in California, USA at sunset

San Diego

🚗 90 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 30 minutes

San Diego's laid-back coastal vibe is irresistible for the perfect sunny road trip. With its beautiful beaches, world-renowned zoo, and lively Gaslamp Quarter, there's plenty to see and do for everyone.

On this drive, you will hug the coast and drive through Oceanside and Carlsbad, home of LEGOLAND California, which is a great place to visit for families.

Los Angeles, California, USA with a view of the Santa Monica Pier during sunset time.

Santa Monica and Malibu

🚗 70 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 40 minutes

Santa Monica and Malibu elegantly blend beach fun with luxury. Enjoy the iconic Santa Monica Pier, shop on Third Street Promenade, and explore Malibu's stunning coastline.

Since this is a relatively short drive, you can make a detour to Anaheim to visit Disneyland or spend some time in Long Beach en route.

sunset in palm springs, california

Palm Springs

🚗 95 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 40 minutes

Craving a desert oasis? Palm Springs is all about mid-century modern architecture, hot springs, and golf courses. Hike in nearby Joshua Tree or just kick back at a spa resort.

On the way, we recommend also stopping to explore Lake Perris State Recreation Area and visiting the quirky Cabazon Dinosaurs.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA skyline over the strip at dusk.

Las Vegas

🚗 260 miles ⏱️ 4 hours

Needing little introduction, Las Vegas is the ultimate destination for high-energy entertainment. Get ready to watch world-class shows, hit the tables at famous casinos, and enjoy fine dining at amazing restaurants.

You can also explore the Route 66 legacy of Barstow and make a stop at Mojave National Preserve to explore its otherworldly landscapes en route.

Sunset at Death Valley with the white cracked Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in the foreground

Death Valley National Park

🚗 280 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 40 minutes

Death Valley National Park is like no other in the world, and it is the hottest place in the country! Visit the lowest point in North America, explore salt flats, and admire the arid desert landscapes while here.

Instead of driving directly to Death Valley, we recommend taking some extra time to also visit the stunning Mojave National Preserve en route.

Joshua Tree National Park in California with trees in the foreground and boulders in the background.

Joshua Tree National Park

🚗 120 miles ⏱️ 2 hours

Joshua Tree National Park is all about unique desert landscapes. Here, you will discover surreal rock formations, unique Joshua Trees, and enjoy some of the best stargazing around.

If you have a little more time on your hands, why not spend some time in Palm Springs and treat yourself to a luxurious resort getaway en route?

Couple kayaking during the golden hour on the lake

Big Bear Lake

🚗 90 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 50 minutes

Big Bear Lake is an alpine paradise year-round. Whether you're skiing in winter or hiking in summer, you'll love the picturesque lake and all it has to offer for fishing and boating.

En route, you can spend some time in Riverside and explore San Bernardino National Forest before reaching Big Bear Lake.

Bird's-eye view of Catalina Casino and Avalon Harbor, showcasing sailboats, fishing vessels, and yachts anchored

Catalina Island

🚗 100 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 45 minutes

Catalina Island's crystal-clear waters and Mediterranean vibe make it a wonderful getaway. Snorkel, kayak, and explore the charming town of Avalon for a perfect island escape.

To reach Catalina Island, you can head to Newport Beach and take a ferry directly across to Santa Catalina Island.

A white steamboat used for touristic tours on the lake

Lake Arrowhead

🚗 75 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 30 minutes

Lake Arrowhead will be your go-to spot if you are looking for a mountain retreat. Here you can enjoy boating, hike scenic trails, and browse the cute village shops while breathing in the fresh, pine-scented air.

On this drive, you can also visit Riverside and San Bernardino for an urban fix before you reach the stunning scenery of Lake Arrowhead.

Wildflowers in the desert park with mountains in the background

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs

🚗 150 miles ⏱️ 3 hours

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is famously home to stunning wildflower blooms in the spring. While in the area, you can also explore Borrego Springs to see interesting artworks in a desert setting.

Spend some time by the ocean and enjoy the sunny Cali weather in San Clemente State Beach and the pretty city of Oceanside.

The Danish Street, Solvang, California


🚗 160 miles ⏱️ 3 hours

Solvang is a charming Danish-style village where you can enjoy delicious pastries, wine-tasting rooms, and laid-back boutique shopping, all with a touch of European flair.

Some of the amazing places you can spend some time at include Anaheim, Los Angeles, and the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara.

Beautiful view over the canyon filled with rugged red-rock formations from Inspiration Point

Bryce Canyon National Park

🚗 520 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Bryce Canyon National Park is a wonderland of spire-shaped rock formations called hoodoos. It's ideal for hiking and taking incredible photos of unique geological formations.

On the way, you can try your luck at casino games in Las Vegas and explore the stunning wilderness of Zion National Park.

Reflection of Grand Canyon in Colorado River, cloudy weather

Grand Canyon National Park

🚗 560 miles ⏱️ 9 hours

For one of the world's natural wonders, Grand Canyon National Park is home to breathtaking vistas, which are postcard-perfect. Hike the trails or take a helicopter tour for unbeatable views.

Don't forget to add the glamorous city of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park and the quirky Salton Sea to your itinerary.

Giant trees in the national park with a fallen log on the floor

Redwood National and State Parks

🚗 740 miles ⏱️ 12 hours, 20 minutes

Redwood National and State Parks house the world's tallest trees. Walk among ancient redwoods and soak up the green, coastal environment for an unforgettable experience.

You will drive through Los Angeles, get a chance to visit Yosemite National Park and explore San Francisco on this epic drive.

Longer road trips from Orange County

San Francisco, California, USA with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

🚗 750 miles ⏱️ 13 hours, 30 minutes

Visit San Francisco to see its iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in person and enjoy incredible farm-to-fork dining.

Candles are lit up on ledges around a traditional southern style building after dark

Santa Fe

🚗 845 miles ⏱️ 12 hours, 40 minutes

Santa Fe is a colorful city, famous for its unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican influences, busy markets, and delicious Southwestern food.

Seattle skyline panorama at sunset as seen from Kerry Park, Seattle, WA


🚗 1,485 miles ⏱️ 30 hours

In Seattle, you can visit the Space Needle, have a meal at Pike Place Market and enjoy stunning waterfront views. You can also explore the nearby national parks.