August 17, 2022

Travel: The best California travel spots from Palm Springs to Redding

My husband and I love to travel and take every opportunity to adventure both in the States and around the world. Yet California always holds a special place in my heart with all my travels.

In December 2021, we took a trip to find the best travel stops in California and traveled from Palm Springs to Redding. Below you will find our reviews of each travel stop to help you navigate your next adventure. These rest stops range from medium to large and are focused on family-friendly features that offer more than just a gas station and fast food.

Oasis on I-5 at Tejon Ranch

Exit Laval Road off Interstate 5

The Oasis on I-5 is more than just a pit stop. The exit is home to the second-largest Tesla charging station in the world, with chargers on both sides of the freeway. Everything you need is conveniently located at this stop with more than 100 gas pumps, 30 eateries, three hotels and shopping at the Outlets at Tejon. The Outlets even have an art gallery with art ranging from various media and price points from California artists. If you are traveling with a furry friend, you are in luck because their stores are pet-friendly.

  • Gas stations: 5
  • Sit-down restaurants: 3
  • Fast food: 27
  • Coffee: 3
  • Hotels: 3
  • Tesla/EV charging: Yes
  • Stores: 40
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes, including RV parking
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, art gallery

Bravo Farms, Kettleman City

33341 Bernard Drive (I-5 and Highway 41), Kettleman City

Bravo Farms in Kettleman City is one of the best rest stops we made! Lots to do and see for the entire family. They have several local food options, tasty Tex-Mex cuisine, healthy salads, delicious Doc Bernstein ice cream and unique gifts. There is large outdoor seating available where kids can play, and pets can be walked!

  • Gas stations: 3
  • Sit-down restaurants: 2
  • Fast food: 5
  • Coffee: 1
  • Hotels: 3
  • Tesla/EV charging: Only Tesla charging
  • Stores: 1
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, wine tasting

Harris Ranch

24505 W. Dorris Ave., Coalinga

Harris Ranch is a great place to stop, relax and enjoy award-winning steak. The Harris Ranch Restaurant is one of California’s first and largest “Farm to Fork” dining destinations. It ranks No. 3 among California’s independent restaurants. It also has an express barbecue restaurant that is an “order at the window” instead of a sit-down. The wait was quite long, as the line was almost out the door. Even though the hotel at Harris Ranch is older, the property is well-maintained.

  • Gas stations: 3
  • Sit-down restaurants: 1
  • Fast food: 3
  • Coffee: 1
  • Hotels: 1
  • Tesla/EV charging: Yes
  • Stores: 0
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, steakhouse

Newhall, Hamburger Hill

Exit Lyons Avenue off Interstate 5

This stop has everything a family or solo traveler needs regarding food, hotels, gas and convenience. There are no attractions or activities, but the stop is a must if you need to stay or fill up on fuel or food. There are five gas stations, an oil-change station and four hotels.

  • Gas stations: 5
  • Sit-down restaurants: 6
  • Fast food: 6
  • Coffee: No
  • Hotels: 4
  • Tesla/EV charging: No
  • Stores: No
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, oil changes

San Clemente

101 W. Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente

This stop is home to the San Clemente Outlets, which has 50 stores. The shopping center was pristine and had the cleanest public restrooms I have ever used. There are about 70-plus reviews on Google alone about how clean the outlet restrooms are!

  • Gas stations: 5
  • Sit-down restaurants: 4
  • Fast food: 12
  • Coffee: 1
  • Hotels: 3
  • Tesla/EV charging: Only Tesla charging
  • Stores: 50
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, Pico Plaza and San Clemente Outlets

Woodland Fuel Stop

Interstate 5 North, Exit 536

If you have traveled all day and are tired, hungry with kids, and need an overnight stop, this place is a great choice. The exit has a good mix of accommodations and various eating places other than your typical fast-food chain. There are four hotels to choose from (Fairfield Marriott, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn), which are kept clean. The best option at this stop for hotels was the Fairfield Marriott.

  • Gas stations: 4
  • Sit-down restaurants: 4
  • Fast food: 10
  • Coffee: 2
  • Hotels: 4
  • Tesla/EV charging: Only Tesla charging
  • Stores: 9
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: No
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, big box stores like Costco and Walmart and oil changes

Palm Springs

48400 Seminole Drive, Cabazone

This stop is home to Desert Hills Premium Outlets, California’s most prominent luxury outlet, an upscale outdoor shopping center featuring high-end designers such as Gucci, Prada, Christian Louboutin and many more. This stop is also home to Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, which has eight eating options, a bowling alley, a spa, gambling and smoke-free zones. The hotel was spotless and the staff was friendly. If you have children, they are more than welcome to be in the gambling-free areas.

  • Gas stations: 2
  • Sit-down restaurants: 2
  • Fast food: 12
  • Coffee: 2
  • Hotels: 1
  • Tesla/EV charging: Yes
  • Stores: 180
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, luxury outlet and casino with a bowling alley

The first exits in Northern California (Bravo Farms, Harris Ranch, Woodland) are closer together. As you travel farther north, the stops start to be few and far between until you arrive at Williams. Williams is a quaint stop with several places to eat and three hotels (Granzella’s Inn, Motel 6 and Ramada Inn). Granzella’s offers good food with attentive and friendly staff. It is right across the parking lot from Granzella’s Restaurant, which offers lunch and dinner with fantastic gelato.

A small gift shop and other fast-food options are also in the area. The Granzella’s family restaurant was recently featured on the Food Network’s “Triple D Nation” series featuring Guy Fieri. Whether you are looking for a good steak, pasta, hand-packed jars of olives, spices and garnishes, espresso, ice cream, or Italian gelato, Granzella’s is family-friendly and suits everyone’s tastes and budget.

  • Gas stations: 2
  • Sit-down restaurants: 1
  • Fast food: 8
  • Coffee: 1
  • Hotels: 3
  • Tesla/EV charging: Yes
  • Stores: 1
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: Yes
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, Granzella’s Gift Shop & Antiques

Redding is a small town with a large shopping center that has big chain stores and one of the largest food offerings. Hotels are located farther down the exit and are not surrounded by shopping or food, making this stop slightly inconvenient. There are three hotels to choose from (Red Lion Hotel, La Quinta, Oxford Suites). Oxford Suites was the best option, although all three were very clean.

  • Gas stations: 5
  • Sit-down restaurants: 4
  • Fast food: 11
  • Coffee: 1
  • Hotels: 3
  • Tesla/EV charging: Yes, only Tesla charging
  • Stores: 100
  • Pet-friendly with grass areas: Yes
  • Plenty of restrooms: Yes
  • Plenty of parking: No
  • Specialty store or feature: Yes, big-box stores like Costco and Target

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