A lot probably depends on how many days you have for the trip. Hopefully you aren't in a rush, and you can take lots of detours. If that's the case, I think you have a lot of options in Arizona and California.
I'm guessing you'll start the trip faster since you already know Texas. You can hit Albuquerque
as a stop, then get to the Grand Canyon National Park
as soon as you can. Spend time exploring the South Rim.
From there, I think one decision is whether you make the detour up from I-40 to Las Vegas
. I don't know if you prefer more nature and outdoors, but if you haven't done Vegas, it could be a fun diversion from the rest of your scenic drive.
Next, you gotta figure out if you're going go into Los Angeles
or not. It only makes sense if you have time to do stuff, otherwise you don't want to deal with the traffic getting in and out. But if you do go into LA, you also maybe have the option to explore Joshua Tree National Park
which is awesome.
Then if you have the extra time, you could do the coastal drive up PCH from LA to San Francisco
. That gives you a whole different ocean view after you just spent days driving across the desert.
The other option is to skip LA, and swing to the north earlier, then maybe try to hit either Sequoia National Park
, Kings Canyon National Park
, or Yosemite National Park
Lots of great routes, depending on how much time you have and whether you want to do more nature or city!