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A Week in Southern California: Natural Beauty & History

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A Week in Southern California: Natural Beauty & History itinerary is designed for a quick escape to the incredible desert areas of Southern California.

  • Reviews 3 Reviews
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Auto Touring, Camping, Children, Desert, Dining, Family, Hiking, History, Lodging, Nature & Wildlife Viewing, Photography, Picnicking, Rock Climbing, Stargazing
  • Activity Level Moderate
All about the A Week in Southern California: Natural Beauty & History.

A Week in Southern California: Natural Beauty & History itinerary is designed for a quick escape to the incredible desert areas of Southern California. It offers a wonderful escape from the freezing cold and snow of winter, although it can be tackled during the summer, with just a smidgen of common sense and caution.

Throw away your winter coats, pack up your sunscreen and come explore this otherworldly landscape, as well as learn a few things about ancient animals, science that brings them back to life and natural history in general.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
  1. Day 1 Museums of Los Angeles

    37 miles (59 km) – 1 h 45 min to 2 h 45 min

    Start: Los Angeles, CA

    End: Burbank, CA

    Since your vacations are only a week long, try to find a flight that will get you to Los Angeles as early in the day as possible. You will be spending the first day in Los Angeles but you should rent a car right away anyways. Los Angeles is a big city with subpar public transportation and having your own vehicle is almost essential.

    After you arrive at Los Angeles, pick up your rental and start exploring. Seven days will fly by so you shouldn’t waste any time. Since this itinerary is focused on the natural beauties and history of the area, you will spend your first day in the City of Angels, exploring some incredible museums.


    More in the download package.


    • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
    • The La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
    • Griffith Observatory
    • Burbank
  2. Day 2 Into the Desert

    414 miles (666 km) – about 9 hours 30 minutes of driving time

    Start: Burbank, CA

    End: Tecopa, CA

    To reach Red Rock Canyon State Park from Burbank, follow the I-5 and take exit 162 onto CA-14. Follow it for 113 miles (179 km) and approximately 1 hour 45 minutes, you will reach the park.

    Red Rock Canyon State Park protects spectacular area of badlands with rock formations, buttes, cliffs and ravines. You can make a quick stop and take some pictures or you can take a short hike (Red Cliffs Loop Trail – 1 mile; 30 minutes or Hagen Canyon Loop Trail – 1.2 mile; 30 minutes). Visitor Center is open only in spring.

    More in the download package.


    • Red Rock Canyon State Park
    • Death Valley National Park
    • Tecopa
  3. Day 3 Joshua Trees, Sand Dunes, Canyons & Gravel roads

    252.5 miles (405 km) – about 6 hours of driving time

    Start: Tecopa, CA

    End: Twentynine Palms, CA

    On day 3 you will be exploring the vast, empty and incredible Mojave National Preserve. Although not a national park, it is the third largest site ran by the National Parks Service, encompassing more than 1.5 million acres (6,200 km2) of the Mojave Desert. It features singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, canyons, mountains, mesas and many historic sites.

    More in the download package.


    • Mojave National Preserve
    • Twentynine Palms
  4. Day 4 The Deserts Collide

    182 miles (294.5 km) – 4 hours 45 minutes of driving time

    Start: Twentynine Palms, CA

    End: Borrego Springs, CA

    Joshua Tree National Park is a place where two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California.

    More in the download package.


    • Joshua Tree National Park
    • Borrego Springs
  5. Day 5 Fan Palms, Oases & Badlands

    102 miles (163 km) – 3 hours 20 minutes of driving time

    Start: Borrego Springs, CA

    End: Alpine, CA

    On day 5 you will be exploring Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the biggest state park in California and second biggest in the contiguous US, behind only Adirondack State Park in New York. The park is located within Colorado Desert of southern California, between coastal mountains to the west and Salton Sea to the east and covers almost 600,000 acres (2,400 km2). It got its name from the 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and “borrego”, the Spanish word for bighorn sheep.

    More in the download package.


    • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    • Alpine
  6. Day 6 The Biggest Urban Park in the Country

    ~41 miles (66 km) – 1 hour of driving time

    Start: Alpine, CA

    End: San Diego, CA

    On the penultimate day you will visit the second big city of the trip – San Diego. Since this itinerary focus’ on the natural history, you will spend the whole day in Balboa Park, even though San Diego offers unlimited opportunities for discovery, learning, dining, relaxing and shopping.

    Balboa Park, the largest urban park in the country, covers 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) overlooking downtown San Diego and features 15 major museums, beautiful gardens, several performing arts venues and the San Diego Zoo. The park is open 24/7 so you can arrive anytime you’d like. Try to arrive to the vicinity of the park by 7 am to avoid traffic jams. You can start by exploring one the park’s 24/7 gardens. Museums and other attractions open at 9 or even 10 am so you will have a few hours to spend exploring the beautiful gardens.

    More in the download package.


    • San Diego Z00


    • San Diego Natural Museum
    • Botanical Building
    • Balboa Park
    • San Diego
  7. Day 7 The Coast

    138 miles (221.5 km) – 3 hours of driving time

    Start: San Diego, CA

    End: Los Angeles, CA

    Last day of the trip and you still have stuff to explore. Your first destination will be the Cabrillo National Monument. The park opens at 9 am, so you won’t have to get up very early, especially since you spend the night in close proximity of the park.

    Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the Cabrillo National Monument is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources.


    More in the download package.



    • Cabrillo National Monument
    • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
    • LAX

Death Valley National Park


Mojave National Preserve

Day 29

Lost Horse Valley - Joshua Tree National Park

Comfort or Freedom

Campgrounds, hotels, motels, b&bs, etc. You Choose!

Overall Rating
Reviewed On 30/10/2018

Awesome. Can't wait for April :) :) :)

Reviewed On 27/10/2018

We've just returned from California. We were there for 10 days and completed this trip and added a drive along Highway 1 to San Francisco. It was a very memorable vacation.

Leanna Atkins
Reviewed On 18/10/2018

I completed this tour in late September, following it to a tee. It was absolutely perfect and even though I used to live in Central Cali for nearly 15 years and visited Southern Cali many times, it helped me a lot. It was a very memorable week.