Start your California photographic adventure in San Diego and make your way north. California is a big state so you will need at least 2 weeks if you want to do it right. If you’re from out of state and want to take the route I took the coastal route, I took to explore California - you can find that right here with directions - http://goo.gl/maps/fDIVM
Take a drive about 2.5 hours east from San Diego and visit the abandoned resorts of the Salton Sea. A salty huge ocean in the middle of the desert. This is bound to be one of the strangest and most beautiful places you will ever visit.
Los Angeles California is a 2 hour drive from Joshua Tree National Park and it is one of the biggest cities in the United States. There are so many locations for you to visit in Los Angeles that you will probably need at the very least 2 full days to see them all. I recommend visiting Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and possibly even DisneyLand which is about 1 hour away. Los Angeles is amazing and so full of life.
Catalina Island is 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles and a stunning place to visit and photograph. To get to Catalina you need to go to Long Beach Ferry and take a boat. The boats leave and return many times in a day and you can get there and back in a single day trip if you leave early.
Get to the Ferry a couple of hours early if you want to tour the Queen Mary which is a beautiful ship and other photographic opportunities. If you go in the winter, you will probably spot whales and dolphins during the boat ride over. In the summer you will probably see flying fish as they flee the fast moving boat. The island is quite small but you can rent a golf cart and then take fantastic photos all over the island.
From Los Angeles there are various routes you can take to San Francisco. The route I recommend if you only have 1 week is the shorter route (not going up the 101 as I mentioned earlier). If your taking the shorter route, than cut over east from Los Angeles and check out Sequoia National Park. If you leave early in the morning from Los Angeles you can be at Sequoia National Park in a few hours. This is a place you will not want to miss as it has 5 of the 10 largest trees in the world!
Yosemite National Park is one of the most awe inspiring places in the world. It is truly one of the wonders of the world and probably one of the best places in the world to capture iconic and well known images. Even if you don’t take pictures it is one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit and that is a guarantee. This place must not be missed if you are traveling within California. While you are traveling to Yosemite, you might pass through this small ghost town called Chinese Camp. Check it out here
San Francisco is the best city in the United States. It has everything that New York has and more. You can’t miss coming to San Francisco when you are in California because this may be the place that you end up leaving your heart. You need at least 2 days to thoroughly enjoy San Francisco and you have to get to Fisherman’s Wharf to get the crab!
If your planning on heading up to Oregon from California than a trip to Redwood National Park is on the way and definitely worth your time. These trees are giants – so tall that you cannot even see the top and so large that you can drive your car through some of them. Going to Redwood National Park is an experience that you will never forget. If you are not headed to Oregon the 10 hour roundtrip from San Francisco to Redwood and back again might be a little tiresome but there are some interesting things you can see along the way.
Assuming you have not taken the coastal route up through California and want to see some of the most awe-inspiring coastline in the world than you need to head down to Big Sur and check out one of the most famous bridges – The Bixby Bridge along the way. Big Sur is over 40 miles of untouched coastline with some of the most amazing cliff views you will ever see. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the world and the coastline is so rugged and dangerous that you will never experience a drive like this.