Set off on a self-drive that takes in the best of sun-kissed SoCal. Start in oceanfront Santa Monica with its tourist-hotspot-meets-local-neighbourhood vibe, spend a couple of days relaxing in the desert city of Palm Springs and feel the sand between your toes along San Diego’s glorious coastline.

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Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego

Recommended itinerary

Los Angeles

City of Angels

Spend three nights in Los Angeles, home to the stars and the hub of movie making in America. Head to Santa Monica, an oceanfront city that has a unique tourist-hotspot-meets-local-neighbourhood vibe, take in the eclectic vibes in canal-crossed Venice, explore world-famous theme parks and movie studios or travel down to Long Beach.

Palm Springs

Desert Vibes

Palm Springs, where we suggest staying for three nights, is an oasis city in the Coachella Valley that's long been a choice of A-listers seeking a break from Los Angeles. You can shop in high-end boutiques, tee off at one of the many golf courses, laze in hot springs or at a spa, or just cool off in the pool at your resort. If you apprieciate mid-century design and archtitecture, spend time spotting modernist houses, mansions and hotels that date back to Palm Springs' 'LA removed' heyday, and visit the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Centre. For a bird's eye view of the city and surrounding valley, take the rotating Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to top of San Jacinto Peak.

San Diego

Sun-kissed shores

San Diego is often overlooked in favour of its sister cities to the north. But if you continue along the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll discover the best example of that laid-back Southern California lifestyle. There’s the beautifully mild climate (on average there are more than 260 days of sunshine a year); a seemingly endless stretch of sandy beaches which range from family friendly to surfers’ paradise; and a celebrated dining and nightlife scene in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. You can step into the world of Top Gun at the historic USS Midway Museum, that's set on an aircraft carrier docked near downtown San Diego; discover the delightful trails, pretty gardens and world-class attractions of Balboa Park; and head out on a whale-watching trip from the Embarcadero or enjoy a California burrito, fish taco or ceviche at one the harbourfront promenade's many restaurants.