The challenge is filling in the blanks on the way up and back.
Rather than racing up and down Interstate 5, the two of you might meander — a bit. Head north on California 99 for a while. Start your return trip with a leisurely drive south on California 1. Stop in small and medium-size towns, visiting the occasional tourist trap and sampling comfort food.
You might even be speaking to each other at the end of the journey.
First stop as you head up the 99: Bakersfield, home to some buzz-worthy consignment shops. Check out In Your Wildest Dreams, a 21,000-square-foot superstore that features vintage clothing, designer labels, costumes and jewelry, or Plato's Closet, where the buyers are laser-focused on the teenage and young adult markets.
Fuel — or reward — your shopping ambitions with Basque food (chops, cold pickled tongue sandwiches, oxtail soup) at the Noriega Hotel or the Pyrenees Cafe. Stop for ice cream at Moo Creamery and then drive to Fresno to collapse and spend the night.
The next morning, if the spirit moves you, visit Fresno's Forestiere Underground Gardens, a fantastical man-made creation that includes underground rooms, passages and gardens. If your teenage daughter expresses skepticism, extol the virtues of outsider art.
Continue on 99 to Merced and stop for a Bubble Tea at the Sno-Crave Tea House. Try a honeydew milk tea or a dark chocolate snow.
Then make your way to Interstate 580 and high-tail it to San Francisco. (Traveling with a gamer? It might be worth your while to stop at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda.)
Head south from San Francisco on California 1, and you'll spot some of the most breathtaking vistas in the state.
In my experience, people of a certain age don't process this scenery in the same manner as their parents, so keep driving to Santa Cruz, a university town that’s an ideal mix of beach, food and vintage/coffee/book shops.
Continue to indulge in that free-love vibe and get caffeinated at Caffe Pergolesi, a turn-of- the-century Victorian coffeehouse.Spend the night in Santa Cruz.
Is it heresy to skip Monterey and Big Sur on a coastal road drip? Possibly. But parts of California 1 are still closed, and your teenage daughter may never look up from her iPhone — so make your way from Santa Cruz to U.S. 101 and head to the Santa Ynez Valley, and Solvang.
The Danish-themed tourist spot may not be your first choice of travel stops, but your companion will happily go into sugar shock as she samples the cookies, fudge and candy that fill so many storefronts of the tiny town.