My mother and I recently took the California Road Trip with Hilton starting in San Francisco and, working our way down to Los Angeles, Orange County and then San Diego. I was surprised at how easy it was to drive through California and stay at Hilton hotels located conveniently along the way. Here are my recommendations on the top 17 things to do on a California Road Trip.
Huntington Beach, Orange County
Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” San Francisco proved Mark Twain wrong the few days I spent at the Hilton Financial District exploring this city in July! The weather was quite warm, in the high 60’s and the sun shone fiercely through the day. In San Francisco, I highly recommend walking down Lombard Street, one of San Francisco’s crookedest streets and admiring the pretty flowers and Victorian mansions. TIP: Get here by 6am and you can not only catch the sunrise, but you will have the street to yourself to drive and/or walk through. A 10 minute drive later you will find yourself at Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies (a row of Victorian era homes featured in the ‘90’s sitcom Full House) and the iconic city skyline. This park is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch with a view! Post lunch you can head to Fisherman’s Wharf for a stroll and, views of Alcatraz, seals on Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the best spot to also catch a ride on a cable car through the city. Baker Beach has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and I highly recommend this beach during sunset. Parking is free! What I liked best about this Hilton is the views of the city and bay from the room.
View from Hilton Financial District at sunrise
Ride a Cable Car
San Francisco to Los Angeles is an easy five to six-hour drive and my mom and I divided our stay in L.A. between the and the Doubletree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. Hilton LAX was not what I expected. The hotel has a stunning foyer, a restaurant that offers a variety of options for their breakfast buffet, a 24×7 bistro, a swimming pool with 4 hot tubs, an executive lounge, meeting rooms, and a gym. The hotel is a mere 15 minutes from Manhattan Beach, 25 minutes from Venice Beach and Marina del Rey! The Doubletree Hilton not only has the best freshly baked chocolate chip cookies but also an incredible Kyoto Garden rooftop, which quickly became my favorite part of this property. You can walk to the architecturally stunning Disney Concert Hall and little Tokyo district in just a few minutes. You can also take Lyft to get to other parts of L.A. With the Hilton California Road Trip package, you can receive tons of discounts on different restaurants and activities. For example, mom and I got up to $10 off all Lyft rides within the L.A area! In Santa Monica, as Hilton guests, we were able to get $5 off the Bird Scooter ride which is a fantastic way to see Santa Monica. And what’s L.A. without seeing the Hollywood Sign?! There are many places from where you can see the sign. You can hike Runyon Canyon, go to the Griffith Observatory or drive up to Lake Hollywood Park if you don’t want to hike, yet still be able to see the sign. Mom and I also stopped by Eataly to try their amazing pizzas and pastas and got a free glass of wine and espresso at their famed Café Lavazza. Their rooftop restaurant Terra has amazing views and is great if you don’t mind not sampling the pizzas that are only available at the lower level at Eataly. You can even save 5% off tickets at and save 20% at the House of Blues! So be sure to take advantage of these asmazing discounts by booking the California Road Trip package, valid through September 2019. Grab these amazing discounts by booking the California Road Trip package.
Kyoto Rooftop Garden – DoubleTree Hilton DTLA
Hollywood Sign from Lake Hollywood Park
Our next stop on the road trip was the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach – Dana Point in Orange County. Orange County is known for Disneyland, Huntington’s surf beaches, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach’s tide pools and charming downtown, and oceanfront Crystal Cove State Park. Just one and a half hours away from L.A. is Huntington Beach so we decided to stop here for lunch. Don’t miss a walk on the beach pier and strolling around the cute downtown. Surfing here is a popular sport. About 20 minutes away further south is Crystal Cove State Park and you can park at any of the designated parking lots for this beach if you pay $15 for a day pass or if you go after 5pm, it’s only $5. This beach is more secluded and less crowded than Huntington or Laguna Beach. We arrived at the hotel in time for a spectacular sunset from their rooftop terrace. Doheny Beach is right across the street from the hotel so it’s also perfect for a sunset stroll. We spent our evenings at the hotel rooftop watching the sunsets by the firepit and unwinding from being on the road! What’s unique about this property is that it’s located across from the beach with two spectacular rooftop terraces – one which provides food and drinks, and the other which has direct sunset views of the ocean.
DoubleTree Suites Hilton Rooftop Terrace
Crystal Cove State Park
An hour south from Doheny Beach is the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego downtown. This hotel is perfectly located because it’s in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, close to restaurants and bars. Downtown is made for walking around and I would highly recommend walking over to Tocaya, an organic, modern Mexican restaurant offering some amazing tacos, burritos and salads. Lola 55 is another taco haven less than 10 minutes walking distance from the hotel. The spectacular USS Midway Aircraft Carrier museum located on the embarcadero is an easy 20 minute walk from the hotel. In less than 30 minutes, you can also be at the coastal town of La Jolla, getting ready for an epic kayaking adventure with Everyday California and kayaking into caves and listening to stories of Dr. Seuss. Overall you will find San Diego is really a world-class city with a beach town vibe.
San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Overall, the road trip is one of the most beautiful ways to see California’s iconic cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego and the Golden State’s beaches will leave you speechless with their wild, raw beauty. Hilton’s California Road Trip Packages are available at some of Hilton’s most iconic properties. I love that Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list. Hilton is also committed to cutting its environmental footprint in half and doubling its social impact investment by 2030. It will also become one of the first major hotel companies to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill. This is one of the reasons I’m partial to staying at a Hilton property wherever I can find one! For more information on how to book this road trip package, visit Travel.Hilton.com/HiltonRoadTrip.