Your road trip from San Jose to Napa is a short one, but it will take you by the eastern side of San Francisco where there is a multitude of things to do and see. You will pass directly through several cities that offer a range of entertainment options, and this area of California also features multiple and diverse parks and preserves. California has nine national parks, the most of any state. San Jose is close to Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia national parks, which affords you the incredible opportunity to easily see multiple national parks within a short timeframe.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of California's better-known national parks and is famous for the Joshua tree, a yucca plant that is in the agave species. The Joshua tree has a unique appearance that resembles a tall palm tree with top-heavy, twisted branches. Native peoples utilized the nuts and flower buds for food and the fronds for shoes and baskets. The two ecologically distinct Sonoran and Mojave deserts are both represented in Joshua National Park. The Sonoran is considered a low desert with a low level of humidity and sparse vegetation, and the Mojave is a high desert with a higher humidity level and more plants. These include creosote bushes, sagebrush, and Parry saltbush.
Yosemite National Park
While many Native Americans, naturalists, and political figures played a part in the formation of Yosemite National Park, it is the famous photographs of Ansel Adams that introduced Yosemite National Park to the public. The park is most known for its giant sequoias, the tallest of which is the Grizzly Giant, a tree estimated to have been propagated around 200 AD and one that today has a height of 209 feet and a circumference of 92 feet. Other popular sights include natural formations like Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, and Half Dome. Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow that contains the Tuolumne River and is surrounded by mountain peaks and domes. Hetch Hetchy Valley has an average elevation of 3,900 feet and offers views of spring waterfalls and wildflowers.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a great choice for a stay during your San Jose to Napa RV road trip. The most prominent feature of the park is a 40-acre section of old-growth redwood trees, the tallest of which is approximately 277 feet tall and 16 feet wide and is around 1,500 years old. Another redwood stand is the Fall Creek Unit, which is a second-growth redwood forest that contains a river canyon and relics from a prior lime-processing industry. Fall Creek has around 20 miles of hiking trails and is open for day-use only. The campground is inside an evergreen forest and is near the Santa Cruz Sandhills habitat.
Caswell Memorial State Park
You will enjoy the chance to see great examples of riparian oaks in Caswell Memorial State Park, which once grew throughout California's Central Valley but now are in decline. Caswell Memorial State Park is also home to several endangered species of wildlife, such as the riparian brush rabbit, which is not known to inhabit any other area. Bird-watching is a favorite activity, and red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks are frequently spotted.
China Camp State Park
China Camp State Park is located in Marin County on the shores of the San Pablo Bay and features varied habitats of salt marsh, oaks, and meadows. While in the park, you may see deer, coyotes, foxes, squirrels, bats, California clapper rails, harvest mice, and other animals. China Camp State Park was once the site of a Cantonese Chinese shrimp and fishing village that had a marine supply store, three general stores, and a barbershop. Visitors today can hike, bike, ride horses, swim, boat, windsurf, and enjoy plenty of other recreational activities. The Quan Bros. snack shop offers snacks, ice cream, and drinks on the weekends.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most-visited sites in the U.S. due to its impressive towers, huge main cables, and Art Deco architecture, as well as beautiful views of the Marin Headlands, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. This suspension bridge spans the one-mile Golden Gate strait, which connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge has a main length of 4,200 feet and a total height of 746 feet. It was designed by Joseph Strauss in 1917 and was the longest and tallest bridge in the world at that time. The Golden Gate Bridge is listed as one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and your San Jose to Napa road trip will be a better one with this site included as one of your excursions.
Balloons Above the Valley
You can take the opportunity to float above the Napa Valley with a Balloons Above the Valley hot air balloon ride. The company offers packages that include lodging, photos, and refreshments for an intimate ride for two people; a balloon ride with refreshments in a group; and a visit that entails the balloon experience and access to the pickup location but without the actual flight. These balloons are rated as the largest in America, and you may well want to add this attraction to your San Jose to Napa road trip itinerary.
The California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences hosts a large number of exhibits and displays, including a planetarium, an aquarium, a rainforest area, and a natural history museum. The Steinhart Aquarium has around 40,000 animals that represent more than 900 species. This amazing aquarium includes an African penguin colony, a shark lagoon, a swamp with an Albino alligator, and a 100,000-gallon tank that emulates the California coast's ecosystem. The Osher Rainforest houses around 1,600 animals, including 250 birds and about 100 amphibians and reptiles.
Fremont is a city near the San Francisco Bay Area that should definitely be in your road trip itinerary from San Jose to Napa. It is home to several interesting sites, such as Mission San Jose, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, and the Ardenwood Historic Farm, which presents horse-powered farming alongside a Victorian mansion. There is also a water park in the city, Aqua Adventure Water Park. This urban area has several convenient dump stations if you need one for your RV. Anthony Chabot Regional Park is in Castro Valley north of Fremont and features hiking trails through eucalyptus trees and hills that overlook Lake Chabot, and it is well worth a visit.
Berkeley is home to the University of California, Berkeley. While visiting this area, you will get to see great views of both the campus and San Francisco Bay from the 1914 Sather Tower, and the Hearst Greek Theatre offers open-air concerts. You may need to use a dump station at this point in your trip, and there are many available options. If you are interested in staying at an RV park, Half Moon Bay RV Park, about 20 miles from Berkeley, is on the beach and has great views of the ocean.
Vallejo is in the San Francisco Bay area and has several entertainment and cultural venues. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a huge theme park that features a number of thrilling roller coasters and other rides. You can discover the history of Vallejo and the naval base on Mare Island, and you can see rugged beaches and grassy spaces while taking a respite from your San Jose to Napa road trip. You will easily be able to find a dump station if you need to use one. Trade Winds RV Park has on-site management, a guest lounge, and proximity to restaurants and shopping, and it is near Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Jose to Napa, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in San Jose or Napa.