Road Trippin’: Kitsch-Rich Adventures Through California

Road Trippin’: Kitsch-Rich Adventures Through California

Inspired by the GoUSA TV California Pop series, we’ve plotted two kitsch-rich road trip itineraries for America-bound, wild-at-heart adventurers

In partnership withExpedia_X_GoUSA_TV

in Hollywood’s United Western studio in 1965, The Mamas
& the Papas’ perennial cover of California Dreamin’ perfectly
embodies the Golden State’s unique blend of pop culture and sunny
natural beauty. Now, fired up by GoUSA TV’s five-part California Pop series – the first of three
digital series offering users “shoppable” itineraries – we’ve been
inspired to collate two options for action-packed California road
trips, complete with giant, life-like dinosaurs, sculptures made
out of trash, and s’mores and Bigfoot stories around the campfire.
Whether you’re looking to cruise to the classics or take a
different track (Oakland hip-hop turned up to max), your ultimate
Cali road trip starts here.

Two pop-perfect California road trip itineraries to try

Building, Palm Springs, California, USA
Road, California, USA

Palm Springs, left, and Anza-Borrego Desert State

Watch my dust: a deep-dive into the social desert

Days 1-3: Palm Springs

There’s “off-grid” and then there’s the Californian desert – an
iconic, sun-baked wilderness that’s long attracted those unafraid
to operate outside of the mainstream. In America’s ground zero of
kitsch, you’re more likely to chance upon an impromptu circus act,
hand-sculpted dinosaur, or collection of crocheted poodles than you
are a McDonald’s sign.

Start out in Palm Springs, a town that oozes a
unique blend of old Hollywood glam and mid-century modern. Stop by
the multihyphenate Superbloom Palm Springs
, home to an exhibition space, boutique and
brutalist industrial design lab. Toast the sunset at Truss &
Twine in the Uptown Design District, where craft cocktails come
paired with plates inspired by the region’s natural larder.

Come bedtime, slip into something silky at Villa Royale, an
adults-only crash pad with a retro 1950s aesthetic. But before you
do, grab a nightcap at the hotel’s restaurant, Del Rey, making new
friends and sharing road trip stories at its 12-seat oak and marble
bar, or by the fire pit on the moonlit patio.

Salvation Mountain, California

Salvation Mountain

Days 4-5: Imperial County

It’s time to dive deeper into the dusty wilds. Fill up the tank
– gas stations are few and far between out here – before hitting
Highway 111 South. It’s only a 90-minute drive to Salvation
– a huge, man-made mound formed out of straw,
clay and thousands of litres of acrylic paint – but it may as well
be another planet. You’ll spot the “GOD IS LOVE” message at its
summit from a mile off, the work of the late Leonard Knight, a
drifter who settled in the area after a fateful hot air balloon
crash in 1985.

Neighbouring Slab City, named for the concrete
blocks left after a World War II training camp was torn down, is
another mecca for the left-of-centre (you may recognise it as a
location for Sean Penn’s film Into the Wild), as is nearby
Bombay Beach, home to the annual (despite the
name) Bombay Beach Biennale festival. Don’t miss The
Polaroid Museum
, a beguiling relic of a former edition of
the arts extravaganza.

Days 6-7: San Diego County

Plot a course for Borrego Springs – population
3,429 – the only California town that’s completely enveloped by a
state park. It’s also surrounded by dinosaurs – lifelike, rust-
coloured metal creations crafted by sculptor Ricardo Brededa.
Inspired? Sign up for a painting or ceramics class at the
non-profit Borrego Art Institute, before taking a
leisurely stroll around the town’s disproportionately large number
of galleries. Camping is free in the surrounding
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Indulge in a spot
of stargazing before hitting the sack, making it an early night so
you’ll be raring to go at sunrise. You’ll need to pack plenty of
water for your epic desert hike, before ending your SoCal odyssey
on a high note with a slap-up dinner in La Jolla, at the oceanfront
Mediterranean Room restaurant of La Valencia

North stars: coasting California’s shores and valleys

Days 1-2: North Coast

Setting off from San Francisco, keeping your eyes on the road
will be a challenge: ocean mists blur the boundaries of silent
redwood forests; salt spray crashes against rugged headlands
(patrolled, December to May, by migrating grey whales); and
pine-ringed lakes flash by in shades of cobalt and Tiffany-blue.
But the man-made curiosities that pepper your route will prove just
as compelling. Rickety fairground rides and spooky fortune-telling
booths? Northern Cali delivers.

There’s lots to please foodies, too. Feast on vegetarian crowd-
pleasers and sip natural wines at Mendocino’s Fog Eater
, then toast marshmallows for s’mores and Sasquatch
stories around the fire on Point Reyes Beach.
Looking for the wildly romantic path less travelled? Try
Bodega Bay – loved locally for its hiking trails.
After working up an appetite, stop for a bowl of clam chowder at
waterfront fish market restaurant Fishetarian.
Then, for an architectural wonder, turn off Pacific Coast Highway 1
at the tiny, environmentally planned community of Sea
and pull over at its whimsical chapel – a magical
place to step inside for a moment of contemplation, or some route

Point Reyes lighthouse
Point Reyes Beach, California

Point Reyes Beach and Lighthouse

Days 3-4: Gold Country

Head inland to explore modern-day Gold Country – a region where
the rich mineral deposits attracted a huge influx of immigrants
during the 1849 gold rush, and one that remains an eclectic melting
pot of influences today.

Reached via the aptly named Highway 49, the characterful town of
Angels Camp sees step-back-in-time saloons sit
comfortably alongside contemporary craft studios. If you’re around
on a Friday, visit the weekly farmers’ market in
Utica Park. Once you’ve panned for gold in
Murphys and slurped artisan ice cream at
Sacramento’s JoMa’s, make tracks
to Stockton, whose glittering Miracle Mile,
spanning Pacific Avenue and Harding Way, is home to the mural-clad
Elsie May Goodwin Gallery. Come bedtime, park up
at Santa Rosa lodestar the Flamingo Resort. Here,
the hotel’s retro- futuristic music lounge, Vintage Space, serves
up live music acts, dancing, comedy and DJs – as well as a mean

Big Sur, California

Big Sur

Day 5-7: Central Coast and Central Valley

This free-spirited region is made for laid-back living – think
garlic festivals, glassworks and languid horseback treks. Make a
beeline for the Carmel Valley’s Folktale Winery,
where small-batch wines are made from grapes grown on its six
hectares of sustainably farmed land, and where the al fresco Sunday
brunch is a spectacular spread of hand-baked breads, seasonal
fruits and showstopper pastries. Take on the winding turns and
seaside cliffs of Big Sur, making a pit stop at the architecturally
dazzling, contemporary art-filled Hawthorne
A riot of maximalism, San Luis Obispo’s
Madonna Inn – a cotton-candy-esque fever dream of
a boutique hotel – is worth detouring for. Think hot tubs, pink
tennis courts, a destination steakhouse and jalapeño

Wake up and set the satnav for Hollister, a
favourite weekend escape for Bay Area cool kids, who love it both
for its photogenic Spanish Colonial architecture and as a base from
which to explore the lesser-known Pinnacles National
. After hitting the trails, quench your thirst at the
2021-opened Mad Pursuit Brewing Company, where
some 20 beers are on tap, alongside wines from vineyards Derose,
Calera and Duckhorn. Nearby Bakersfield is where
we’re pulling over for a retail fix. The town’s downtown Antique
District is home to a dozen or so shops selling everything from
mid-century furniture to old comics and homeware. But be warned:
just because there’s room in the van doesn’t mean your luggage
allowance will stretch to a vintage taxidermy hyena.

Ready to stop California dreamin’ and make it happen? Browse
(and buy) on the shoppable streaming service, powered by Expedia
x GoUSA TV. Watch.Plan.Go to the USA, all in one place.


The Lowdown

To start planning your own pop-perfect Cali road trip, head

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