My parents and my husband and I will have three days in July in which to drive somewhere??
I would have liked to drive the coastal route to San Francisco but have realised that we do not have enough time.
So my question is what other options are there for that amount of time. We need to return to LA. We will have already been to Las Vegas.
We don't mind driving quite long distances (5+ hours)and I would think that we would probably like great scenery over cities.
If you enjoy camping, Sequoia National Park.
Hurst Castle, which is north of LA, maybe a day's drive, don't remember. Built by William Randolph Hurst, capitalist and founder of the Hurst Newspaper chain. Unbelievable place, well worth the drive and cost. Is a Ca state park of some sort.
I suggest either the wine country north of Santa Barbara, or you go north to Paso Robles and visit the wineries there, go to Cambria on the coast, then visit Hearst Castle (make sure you buy your tickets weeks in advance or they will be sold out)--or, if you are really ambitious, drive up the coast to Morro Bay/Cambria (spend the night near the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill and buy an ollaliberry pie or chicken pot pie at Linn's Main Bin the next day), go the next day to Hearst Castle, then north along the coast to Monterey (the most beautiful drive in the US is in this section, which unfortunately takes about 5 hours since it's a windy, two lane road), then come back to LA the following day via the inland (US 101) route which is about a 6 to 8 hour drive total.
You will overlap routes on this trip, but if you cut east at Solvang to go to Santa Barbara on the way back, the overlap is very minimal. Plus Solvang is a preserved old Danish town--very interesting and scenic in its own right. The wineries are also near here--and the pastries are fantastic. See the movie "Sideways" to get ideas for places (or look up my post on the same subject on this website where I give exact locations in the movie worth visiting).
An alternative to all of the above is to either go south to San Diego and across to the northern part of Mexico (take the toll road along the coast to Rosarita Beach and maybe on south to Ensenada), or else to cut east to Palm Springs and spend time by the pool at a resort hotel, take the tram up the mountain to cool down (but don't go wandering off and get lost--since people get lost up there all the time), or golf on some of the best courses anywhere (PGA West and Indian Wells are two of the best in the country).