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Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

While many travelers begin in Los Angeles, driving the Pacific Coast Highway from north to south keeps you in the lane closest to the ocean. In Washington, Oregon, and at the northern end of California, the Pacific Coast route follows US Highway 101. Near the small town of Leggett (home to the famed Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree) US-101 transitions into scenic Highway 1, the most popular portion of this route and the classic Coastal California road trip.

For some reason, when people elsewhere in the country refer to the Pacific Coast, particularly California, it’s apparent that they think it’s a land of kooks and crazies, an overbuilt suburban desert supporting only shopping malls, freeways, and body-obsessed airheads. All this may be true in small pockets, but the amazing thing about the Pacific Coast—from the dense green forests of western Washington to the gorgeous beaches of Southern California—is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.

Planning a West Coast Road Trip

Road Trip USA’s Pacific Coast route begins at the northwest tip of the United States at Port Townsend near Olympic National Park, and remains within sight of the ocean almost all the way south to the Mexican border. This 1,650-mile, mostly two-lane route takes in everything from temperate rainforest to near-desert. Most of the Pacific Coast is in the public domain, accessible, and protected from development within national, state, and local parks, which provide habitat for such rare creatures as mountain lions, condors, and gray whales.

Cape Flattery on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is the northwesternmost tip of the continental US. Photo © Harry Hu/123rf.

Heading south, after the rough-and-tumble logging and fishing communities of Washington State, you cross the mouth of the Columbia River and follow the comparatively peaceful and quiet Oregon coastline, where recreation has by and large replaced industry, and where dozens of quaint and not-so-quaint communities line the ever-changing shoreline. At the midway point, you pass through the great redwood forests of Northern California, where the tallest and most majestic living things on earth line the Avenue of the Giants, home also to some of the best (meaning gloriously kitsch) remnants of the golden age of car-borne tourism: drive-through trees, drive-on trees, houses carved out of trees, and much more. The phenomenally beautiful coastline of Northern California is rivaled only by the incredible coast of Big Sur farther south, beyond which stretch the beachfronts of Southern California. The land of palm trees, beach boys, and surfer girls of popular lore really does exist, though only in the southernmost quarter of the state.

A classic Big Sur photo op is beautiful McWay Falls in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park. Photo © 123rf.

Along with the overwhelming scale of its natural beauty, a West Coast road trip is remarkable for the abundance of well-preserved historic sites—most of which haven’t been torn down, built on, or even built around—that stand as vivid evocations of life on what was once the most distant frontier of the New World. While rarely as old as places on the East Coast, or as impressive as those in Europe, West Coast sites are quite diverse and include the Spanish colonial missions of California, Russian and English fur-trading outposts, and the place where Lewis and Clark first sighted the Pacific after their long slog across the continent.

Last but certainly not least are the energizing cities—Seattle and Portland in the north, San Francisco in the middle, and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south—which serve as gateways to (or civilized respites from) the landscapes between them. Add to these the dozens of small and not-so-small towns along the coast, with alternating blue-collar ports and upscale vacation retreats, and you have a great range of food, drink, and accommodation options. Local cafés, seafood grills, and bijou restaurants abound, as do places to stay—from youth hostels in old lighthouses to roadside motels (including the world’s first, which still stands in lovely San Luis Obispo, California) to homespun B&Bs in old farmhouses

10 Great Pacific Coast Highway Sights

For more insight into each stop along a West Coast road trip, our content is arranged by state, with California’s coastline broken into its northern, central, and southern sections. Here are ten major sights along the Pacific Coast Highway where travelers aiming to follow only a section of the full cross-country route may wish to use to plan their drive:

  • Olympic National Park, Washington – Combines the features of Maine’s rocky coast, the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and the unique rainforests of the Pacific Northwest
  • Astoria & Fort Clatsop, Oregon – Part of the extensive Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, Fort Clatsop is just outs >

The Ultimate West Coast USA Road Trip Guide

A West Coast USA road trip is one of the classic American road trips. Make the most out of your adventure with this step-by-step Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary.

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway and Highway 1 on a West Coast USA road trip is an experience to remember – it’s one that I certainly do.

Magnificent views, laid-back towns, vineyards and the great outdoors: this is a real chance to explore the great American coast. What more could you want from your time on the road?

Any great trip is worth taking its time over, so I’ve put together the perfect three week Pacific coast Highway road trip itinerary to help you plan your trip. All the ideas, stops and suggestions you’ll need to plan the perfect trip. Don’t stress, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

In this guide I will cover:

    What to do and cons >

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Map

West Coast America Trip Planner: Practical Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Where Does the Pacific Coast Highway Start?

The Pacific Coast Highway technically only runs from San Diego to Mendocino in California – the full stretch from San Diego to Seattle is Highway 1 / Highway 101, which is what this itinerary covers.

In reality, people use the phrases Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1 and Highway 101 interchangeably (and that’s what I do in this guide) – it all means one thing: an amazing West Coast America road trip.

Which Direction Should You Drive Highway 1?

Either way. I wanted to travel the West Coast of the USA from south to north but you can drive this Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary in the opposite direction from Seattle to San Diego – there isn’t much in it either way.

If you drive from north to south, it’s easier to turn off and get to lookouts. If you drive from south to north, the sun tends to be behind you and not in your eyes.

I’d check flights on Skyscanner first and then just book whichever way works best from there.

How Much Does a West Coast Road Trip Cost?

In general, driving down the West Coast of America costs between $175 and $350 dollars a day (for two people). Estimated costs for a few items are as follows.

Item Estimated Daily Cost
Car Hire (basic car) $84 / £68
Accomodation (Hotel or Airbnb) Between $50/£40 and $150 / £130
Fuel $20 / £16

I haven’t included estimates for food and excursions as ultimately, this really will depend on your budget and travel style.

You can reduce costs by renting an RV rather than a car – although the initial cost of the rental is higher, you save on accommodation (other than pitch fees) and you can cook to save money as you travel.

How Long does it Take to Drive the West Coast of America?

You can drive the whole of the West Coast of America in just under three weeks as per this itinerary. This does mean that you will be constantly moving and won’t have time for any detours.

I would suggest taking things at a slower pace if you can. 1 month for the whole of the West Coast is an ample amount of time allowing you to explore at your leisure.

If you have two weeks or less, I would suggest sticking to the California section of the trip from San Diego to Redwood National Park and taking more time in each stop.

Car Hire for Your West Coast USA Road Trip

If you’re hiring a car, rather than an RV, your choice of car is going to be really important. While it can be tempting to hire the smallest and cheapest car – do remember that you’re going to spend a lot of time in the vehicle. So much so that it’s going to become one of your best buddies during your West Coast America trip.

Our much-loved hard top Chevy Camero

Who doesn’t want to look flashy in a bright red convertible zipping along the coast? If you’re going for the ultimate road trip vehicle a convertible is the thing that immediately springs to mind. That said, if you’re travelling outside of summer, it might not be the best choice: the weather in the Pacific Northwest is notoriously unpredictable…

Things to Consider When Renting a Car for the West Coast Drive

Here are some pointers on what to think about when you are choosing a car.

  • If you want to live it up in true West Coast style and hire a convertible, popular choices are a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. If you aren’t fussed about having the top down but still want to go for a muscle car, you may be able to get a really good deal on one of the hard top versions of these cars (that’s what we d >
    • Hertz – Hertz is an international car rental company that has a variety of cars available for a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway.
    • Sixt Rent a Car – Sixt has great car rental prices.
    • Thrifty
    • Alamo
    • Avis
    • Enterprise
    • Alternatively, rather than trawling through all of the car hire companies independently, I often use rental comparison site Holiday Autos to find the cheapest / most suitable rental for my trip.

    RV Hire

    If you don’t want to hire a car and sort accommodation separately, an RV is something you should consider. RVs or “recreational vehicles” can be as basic or as luxurious as your budget affords.

    The whole of Highway 1 is covered with campsites with RV pitches (including all of the campsites mentioned in the article) so you will never struggle to find somewhere to pitch for the night. Pitches tend to come with electricity and water as a minimum.

    Of course, you always have the option of just parking up roadside and kipping there for the night too.

    Though RV rental isn’t cheap, it tends to be the more economical option if there’s a group of you travelling.

    RV Rental Companies

    You can also choose to camp and drive in a campervan.

    As a rule these are much smaller than RVs but also tend to be more cost-effective. Wicked Campers hire brightly-coloured and decorated vehicles that are going to make you look like the coolest kid in town – I used them for our Atacama Desert road trip in Chile and was really impressed by the company.

    When is the Best Time to do a Road Trip up the West Coast of the USA?

    In the southern part of the road trip (south of Los Angeles) the weather tends to be sunny pretty much all year round, getting colder and chillier the further north you go.

    If you want to do the whole road trip from San Diego to Seattle, I would suggest doing it between April and October. Even then, be sure to bring warm clothes and layers as it can be foggy and chilly north of San Francisco, even in the summer.

    The busiest time for a West Coast drive is between mid-June until the end of August (which is also when the notorious “June Gloom” fog engulfs parts of the coast, so if you can travel outside of these times, I would.

    What to Pack for Your West Coast USA Road Trip

    It can be tempting to pack everything, including the kitchen sink for a West Coast road trip but the reality is you don’t need to bring tonnes of stuff with you.

    I’ve put together a basic list of items you’ll need, plus a few extras if you plan on doing a lot of hiking while you’re on the trip.

    • Clothes + Shoes
    • Binoculars – for whale watching season, seal and sea-lion spotting, bird watching and trying to work out how tall that tree really is.
    • Picnic Blanket
    • Sunscreen
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat
    • Camera.


    Additional Items for Outdoors Activities

    • Wetsuit if you’re planning on surfing, particularly in the sea in and above Northern California.
    • Hiking Boots and Socks
    • Soft Shell Jacket or Waterproof Jacket for Hiking
    • Marco Polo West Coast USA Map

    The Ultimate West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary

    San Diego (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 1)

    Laid-back, friendly and easy on the eye, San Diego is the perfect place to start your USA road trip itinerary and a great introduction to the West Coast of California. The city is best known for two things: its great beaches and year-round warm climate – take advantage of both of these before you set off on your West Coast road trip.

    Spend some time exploring the compact downtown area and take advantage of the buzzing dining scene before hitting the road. See the Practical Tips section above for details on transport, car hire and road trip essentials before you set off.

    Best Things to do in San Diego

    • San Diego Zoo – San Diego’s world-famous wildlife sanctuary is located in Balboa Park, with more than 3,700 animals of 650 species. Book here for skip the line tickets.
    • Mission Beach – The lively boardwalk and picture-perfect coast make this one of San Diego’s hottest spots.
    • Catch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs – They got their name for a reason.
    • Take a surfing lesson – Because it’s California and it’s practically mandatory.
    • Read for more San Diego travel inspiration

    Where to Stay in San Diego

    Sheraton San Diego Marina (Luxury)

    Right on the Marina and offers a free transfer from San Diego Airport.

    Hotel Indigo (Mid Range)

    An eco-friendly hotel with an eye-catching interior in the Gaslamp Quarter.

    Hotel Solamar (Mid Range)

    Flaunting its hipster credibilities, Hotel Solamar is a cool place to stay without breaking the bank.

    San Diego to Laguna Beach (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 2)

    1.5 hour drive from San Diego.

    It’s a beautiful drive from San Diego to Laguna Beach, the next stop on your West Coast USA road trip itinerary. Straight outta the OC, Laguna Beach is a pleasant cluster of gorgeous beaches, art galleries and boho-chic eateries.

    Stop off to explore the rocky bluffs and hidden coves dotted along Laguna’s coastline. There are over 30 beaches in the seven-mile stretch of Laguna Beach for you to take your pick from.

    Best Things to do in Laguna Beach

    • Laguna Art Museum – The best in modern Californian art in the oldest museum in the state.
    • St Francis Cathedral – The second-smallest cathedral in the world (it’s tiny).
    • Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art – Showcases contemporary art dedicated to illuminating humanitarian causes.
    • Nick’s Laguna Beach – Classic American comfort food is the name of the game at this chic bistro with an open kitchen.
    Where to Stay in Laguna Beach
    Inn at Laguna Beach (Luxury)

    One of the coolest hotels in Laguna Beach (and with the price tag to match), the Inn at Laguna Beach is tucked away on a cliff, 1 minute walk from the beach and with captivating ocean views. Service is second to none.

    Laguna Hills Lodge (Budget)

    Tucked inland in the Laguna Hills, this budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price.

    Laguna Beach to Los Angeles (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 3)

    1 hour drive from Laguna Beach.

    Love it or hate it, no West Coast USA road trip is complete without a stop in Los Angeles. Sure, the roads are crazy but take some time to explore and you’ll find some of the coolest galleries, restaurants and beaches in the US.

    Best Things to do in Los Angeles

    • The Broad. LA’s hottest art gallery is the place to go and an Insta-lover’s dream.
    • Venice Beach. Release your inner freak and revel in the weird, wacky and wonderful on Venice Beach.
    • Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles. The best fried chicken in LA is something of an institution. Grab your place in line before settling down to a feast.

    Want more LA travel inspiration? Check out our guide to 25 LA Hotspots you shouldn’t miss on your next trip.

    Best Places to Stay in LA

    The Mondrian (Luxury)

    This Morgan Hotels property is quirky and unashamedly glossy.

    Farmer’s Daughter (Mid-Range)

    This 1960s strip motel has been transformed into a characterful hub in a cool location.

    USA Hostels Hollywood (Budget)

    Looking for a lively hostel with buzzing social areas and a nightly rota of events? This is your place.

    Los Angeles to Santa Barbara (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 4)

    1.5 hour drive from Los Angeles.

    After a leisurely (and relatively short) drive from Los Angeles, you should stop off in Santa Barbara for a taste of the good life.

    This old Spanish mission town is a West Coast road trip USA staple – over the years it has blossomed into a hub of pretty buildings, lush gardens and high-end stays.


    Don’t forget to pop into a vineyard or two in the style of indie-hit film Sideways. Just remember to appoint a designated driver first.

    If you don’t have time to head out to the vineyards, many of them have tasting rooms in town too (mostly centered around the fabulously-named region of town called The Funk Zone).

    Best Things to do in Santa Barbara

    • Mission Santa Barbara. Dating back to 1786, Santa Barbara’s mission is the city’s main historical landmark and well worth a visit.
    • Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Captivating range of artworks from native Californians and international masters.
    • Kalyra Winery. A small, independent winery producing stellar wines (also pops up in the indie flick Sideways).
    • The Lark. Santa Barbara’s best restaurant is difficult to book but well worth the effort if you bag a table.
    • Metropolous Fine Foods Merchant. Stock up on deli dishes, handmade sandwiches and salads for your lunch.

    Where to Stay in Santa Barbara

    Belmond El Encanto (Luxury)

    A plush hotel overlooking the ocean, El Encanto is the place to really push the boat out.

    The Eagle Inn

    A quaint B&B with private cottages a few blocks away from the beach.

    Casa del Mar Inn

    An affordable hidden gem that’s close to the beach.

    Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach + San Luis Obispo (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 5)

    1.5 hour drive from Santa Barbara.

    The drive from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo is full of treasures, and sure to be a highlight of your West Coast USA road trip.

    If you’re travelling between October and February, the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove is a must-do: millions of Monarch Butterflies take sanctuary in the grove’s Eucalyptus trees during the winter season. Bring some binoculars or a good zoom camera for a close up peek.

    Pismo is prime seafood country – The Cracked Crab might be no-frills, but who needs them when the seafood is that fresh and tasty? Cover up though, digging in can be a messy business.

    Almost perfectly halfway between LA and San Fran, San Luis Obispo (or SLO as the local’s call it) is a buzzing town with an old Catholic mission and a great weekly farmer’s market. Wine lovers should take a little detour into the picturesque Edna Valley to taste the local vintages.

    Best Things to do in Pismo Beach + San Luis Obispo

    • Monarch Butterfly Grove
    • The Cracked Crab
    • San Luis Obispo Mission – a well-preserved mission dating from 1772.
    • Farmer’s Market

    Where to Stay in San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Creek Lodge (Luxury)

    High-end B&B that’s consistently rated as one of the best places to stay in SLO.

    Madonna Inn (Mid-Range)

    Over-the-top in the best possible way. If you want your accommodation with bags of colourful personality, you won’t find anywhere better than the Madonna Inn.

    Avenue Inn Downtown San Luis Obispo (Budget)

    Small inn in walking distance from downtown San Luis Obispo.

    San Luis Obispo to Hearst Castle and the Big Sur (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 6)

    Get ready for dramatic scenery and photo-opps galore on today’s West Coast drive. Today starts with a visit to the palatial but bizarre Hearst Castle.

    Sir William Randolph Hearst built the castle to entertain his hoards of Hollywood star and media magnate friends. Expect unbridled opulence and gorgeous architecture from this Highway 1 Highlight.

    After Hearst Castle, jump back into the car for a completely different kind of drama: The Big Sur. This winding 100-mile stretch of road is California’s most famous – and for many, the highlight of their West Coast Road Trip.

    For good reason: the salty surf, coastal bluffs and (mildly terrifying) winding road are sure to keep you on your toes. Allow plenty of time to drive the Big Sur as it can get quite congested.

    Sections of Big Sur are closed during 2020. Check here for the latest updates.

    Best Things to do in Big Sur

    • Hearst Castle – Sir William Randolph Hearst’s fantastical fairytale destination.
    • The seal colony at Point Piedras Blancas
    • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – home to McWay Waterfalls, redwoods and some great hiking.
    • Henry Miller Memorial Library – beatnik books, offbeat events and film screenings.
    • Pfeiffer Beach – a purple sand beach in the state park. A little hard to find but worth spending the time to do it.
    • Big Sur Taphouse – For locally-brewed craft beers and delicious food.
    • Deetjeens Big Sur Inn – Grab some hearty fare from this local institution.

    Where to Stay in Big Sur

    Post Ranch Inn (Luxury)

    Frequently named as one of the best hotels in the US and the place to pamper yourself on your Highway 1 road trip.

    Big Sur Lodge (Mid Range)

    Tucked away in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur Lodge is the perfect base for exploring the area.

    Big Sur Campground & Cabins (Budget)

    If you’ve brought a tent, book ahead and pitch up in this handy campsite.

    Big Sur to Carmel, Monterey + Santa Cruz (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 7)

    1.5 hour drive from Big Sur to Santa Cruz

    Wherever you’ve stopped off in Big Sur, I’m pretty sure that you will be sorry to leave. Many people call it a day after Big Sur and head back home. Sure, you could do that – but you’d be missing out on so much of the Pacific Coast Highway / Highway 1 and the adventures that it has to offer.


    Pack up and jump back in the car and drive down to the small well-heeled town of Carmel (of Clint Eastwood ex-mayor fame). I can’t say that Carmel was my favourite place ever, but there’s an undeniable charm to the chocolate-box prettiness of the town.

    Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a short distance from Carmel couldn’t stand in starker contrast to the quiet town. You can’t miss the crashing waves and and the noisy sea lion population who make their presence known (very loudly).

    I’d recommend taking a few hours and doing the six-mile circuit around the park, but if you’re short on time there are plenty of car parks near to viewing points for you to take advantage of.

    Further along the coast, you can stop off in Monterey to see the award-winning aquarium (buy your tickets in advance if you do). Wander around the town, which was immortalised in the John Steinbeck novel “Cannery Row” thanks to its previous life as the centre of the US sardine canning industry.

    Those brave enough to get in the chilly waters might also want to consider booking a dive to explore Monterey’s abundant underwater life. When you’re ready to get back on the road, cruise along to eccentric Santa Cruz to spend the night.

    Best Things to do in Carmel, Monterey + Santa Cruz

    • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – sea lions and wildlife in a rugged natural setting.
    • Monterey Bay Aquarium.
    • Point Pinos Lighthouse – the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast.
    • Monarch Grove Sanctuary Park. If you missed the Monarch Butterfly grove on the way to Pismo, you get a second chance. October to February only.
    • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The oldest seaside amusement park on the West Coast is a celebration of all things kitsch and cool.
    • Santa Cruz Surf School. There’s no better place to learn to surf than Santa Cruz – you can even buy a board (or something a little more portable) from the original O’Neill Surf Shop on 41st Ave.

    Where to Stay in Santa Cruz

    Rio Vista Suites (Luxury)

    A pristinely restored historical mansion and the swankiest bed in town.

    Pacific Blue Inn (Mid-Range)

    Eco-friendly cool spot with comfortable and stylish rooms.

    New Brighton State Beach Campground (Budget)

    Beachside camping with power connections and shady spots if you can get there early enough to nab one.

    Santa Cruz to San Francisco (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Days 8 + 9)

    1.5 hour drive from Santa Cruz to San Francisco

    It’s only 70 miles from Santa Cruz to San Francisco but what a 70 miles – it is the quintessential American West Coast road trip dream.

    You’d think that you’ll be used to mile after mile of gorgeous coastline unfurling in front of your windscreen by now, but let me tell you – it never gets old.

    Stop off outside of Santa Cruz at the Año Nuevo State Park to see the largest mainland breeding colony of elephant seals. Watch as the (not so gentle) giants roll around in the surf, snooze and fight – you can book ahead onto a guided tour.

    There are plenty of small stops for you to take along the coast: Pigeon Point, Pescadero State Beach and Half Moon Bay are popular ones. Seafood-lovers are spoilt for choice with the seemingly endless seafood shacks lining this part of Highway 1 (hey, you can never have too much of a good thing right?).

    However many stops you make and shacks you eat in, you’ll eventually make it to San Francisco.

    I’d recommend spending an extra day here (mainly because you’ve been doing a lot of driving and it’s one of my favourite cities) – but if you would rather spend that extra day somewhere else, say in Yosemite, that’s easily done too. San Fran is packed with things to do and see – here are a few of my faves.

    Best Things to Do in Santa Cruz and San Francisco

    • Año Nuevo State Park – elephant seal watching on the coast.
    • Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Park – one of the tallest lighthouses in the US and a good seal and whale watching spot during the season.
    • Pescadero State Beach – the marshy lands behind the beach are a birdwatcher’s paradise.
    • Alcatraz – the prison on The Rock. Take the boat and a tour of the most famous prison in the US.
    • The Castro – gay friendly and colourful Castro is the perfect spot to explore on two feet.
    • Golden Gate Bridge + Park. Walk through the woodland and hike along the trails to the foot of San Francisco’s legendary Golden Gate Bridge.
    • Go Stargazing in the Bay
    • Balmy Alley – politically-inspired street art in the lively Mission District.
    • Brunch – Gingey Bites has written a great guide to the best brunch spots in San Francisco

    Where to Stay in San Francisco

    Argonaut Hotel (Luxury)

    Luxury hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf with a stylishly understated Maritime theme.

    The Buchanan (Mid-Range)

    Located in Japantown, The Buchanan boasts a sleek design and thoughtful touches at a reasonable price.

    Pigeon Point Lighthouse (Budget)

    If you don’t want to spend the night in San Fran, you can book a bed in the iconic HI-run lighthouse if you reserve well in advance.

    San Francisco to Mendocino (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 10)

    3hrs mins drive from San Francisco to Mendocino.

    Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

    From San Francisco, head back out to Highway 1 to resume your West Coast road trip itinerary. You’re heading towards redwood country: where the majestic tall trees are almost as numerous as the people that live there.

    Hiking opportunities abound, as do small and quirky towns – each with its own organic food store and cafe. Stock up on picnic supplies and eat your feast on one of the wide-open beaches.

    If you’re travelling in season (November to April), keep an eye out for migrating whales making their annual journey between Alaska and Mexico. Bed down in Mendocino: the perfect base for exploring the craggy Mendocino Headlands State Park.

    Best Things to do Between San Francisco and Mendocino

    • Go on a whale watching trip with Bodega Bay Charters.
    • Hiking in Salt Point State Park.
    • Climb to the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse for spectacular views out to sea.
    • Mendocino Headlands State Park for abundant wildlife and (more) hiking.
    • Spud Point Crab Company You’ve got to be a dab hand at making crab if you include it in your name. Fortunately for Spud Point, they are.
    • Explore wine country. Head inland to discover Mendocino’s thriving wine country.


    Where to Stay in Mendocino

    Blue Door Inn (Luxury)

    Upscale accommodation with indulgent breakfasts and contemporary decor.

    Agate Cove Inn (Mid-Range)

    A small high-end B&B with sea views.

    Gualala Point Regional Park

    Gualala Point is the perfect place to camp: a short walk from the beach in a redwood grove.

    Mendocino to Klamath (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 11)

    4.5 hour drive from Mendocino to Klamath.

    Today is all about the majestic Redwood National Park – home to the tallest trees in the world. Start off from Mendocino early for the 3-4 hour drive up to the national park. The park takes its name for the soaring redwood trees, larger than you can possibly imagine that fill its grounds.

    There are numerous hiking trails within the park, suited to hikers of all kinds of abilities, otherwise you can explore the highlights and main viewing points by car.

    If you’re not camping, the small hamlet of Klamath is your best choice for accommodation – with the added benefit that you can start several hikes from Klamath itself.

    If you are stopping your West Coast USA road trip in California, that’s it folks – time to head home. If you’re going all the way up to Seattle, keep reading – you’ve got plenty of excitement to come.

    Best Things to do in Redwood National Park

    • Howland Hill Road – a 10-mile drive through a Redwood grove with an optional ½ mile walk.
    • Klamath River Overlook – drive to the overlook for prime whale watching during migration season plus wildlife spotting opps for the rest of the year.
    • Fern Canyon – An enchanting canyon lined with ferns in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park.
    • Hidden Beach – Hike along a three-mile coastal and forest trail from the Klamath River Overlook to this gorgeous beach that is only accessible by foot. It’s almost always empty and is dotted with driftwood pebbles and branches worn smooth by the surf.
    • Avenue of the Giants – Take a turn off Highway 101 in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park to take the 32-mile Avenue of the Giants. The road is named for the soaring redwood trees that line its sides – nothing makes you feel smaller than hundreds of trees so tall you can’t even see the top.

    Where to Stay in Klamath

    Holiday Inn Express Redwood National Park (Budget)

    There’s not much to this Holiday Inn that’s special but it’s in a great location for walking out to Klamath River Overlook and then doing the three mile hike to Hidden Beach.

    Klamath to Coos Bay (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 13)

    3 hour drive from Klamath to Coos Bay

    Welcome to Oregon! After a long time dawdling your way up the Californian coast and moseying inland for a detour or two, it’s time to hit a new state. Oregon’s quieter coastline boasts a rugged beauty that never fails to impress.

    Almost every Tom, Dick and Harry sets out on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip and sees the Big Sur, but if you’ve made it up this far, you’ve truly earned your Highway 1 road-tripper badge of honour.

    Best Things to do between Klamath and Coos Bay

    • Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor – Named after the “father” of Oregon’s national park system, the scenic corridor is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Oregon coastline.
    • Brookings – A cool little town just over the Oregon border. Chill out on one of the many beaches, hang out on the boardwalk and soak up the laid-back vibe.
    • Arch Rock Brewing Company – The Pacific Northwest is famed for its craft beer scene. Make like a local and try a brew or two in Arch Rock (y’all don’t need me to tell you about drink driving – designated driver etc etc).
    • Sunset Bay, Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks – Three state parks that stand side by side on the southern stretch of the Oregon coast. You can camp in Sunset Bay – make sure you’re there for sunset, it’s named that for a reason.
    • Port Orford – Wedged in a small natural harbour next to Cape Blanco State Park, the views from Port Orford are fairly spectacular.
    • Coos Bay – Coos Bay is well worth exploring. There are a few cool museums and plentiful seafood to chow down on too.

    Where to Stay in Coos Bay

    Red Lion Hotel Coos Bay (Mid-Range)

    Recently given a breath of fresh air, the Red Lion is a comfortable option in Coos Bay.

    Sunset Bay State Park (Budget)

    Camping near to the shoreline at this state park. Tent sites, RV hookups or you can rent one of their eight yurts.

    Coos Bay to Newport (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 13)

    2 hour drive from Coos Bay to Newport

    A little north of Coos Bay Highway 1 takes you to the fringe of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – the largest area of coastal sand dunes in the US.

    Up to 150 metres tall – the dunes are impressive enough to look at, but add in dune bashing, hiking and horseriding and you have a whole world of fun. I’d recommend parking up and spending most of the day in the park – it’s only a short drive to Newport and the dunes really do have to be seen to be believed.

    Best Things to do Between Coos Bay and Newport

    • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – spend the day (or more if you have the time) exploring the largest area of coastal sand dunes in the US.
    • Umpqua Aquaculture – If you love oysters, read on.This tiny little spot may well serve the best oysters you can find on the whole of the West Coast. Yes, we’re serious. Buy them by the bucket and feast your face off.
    • Oregon Coast Aquarium – Award-winning aquarium in Newport with a sea otter pool, and a heart-stopping shark tunnel.
    • Yachats – A small town on this undeveloped coastline that’s the Oregon beachside hideaway for those in the know.
    • Yaquina Head Outstanding Area – A coastal bluff with the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. At low tide, you can spot the sea urchins and starfish that line the shores. You’ll need to book ahead if you want to visit the lighthouse itself.
    • Willamette Valley – Not along the Highway 101 at all but this valley a short drive inland is the home of Oregon’s flourishing Pinot Noir production. Wine lovers – it’s definitely worth the detour.

    Where to Stay in Newport

    Inn at Nye Beach (Luxury)

    Set in the increasingly cool area of Nye Beach, the Inn has a wonderful view, freshly-roasted coffee and chocolate chip cookies. Heart eye-emoji love.

    Sylvia Beach Hotel (Mid-Range)

    Every room here is named (and decorated) after a different literary legend, so you can take your pick from Alice Walker, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and more. The room features books and information about your author of choice. There are no TVs and no wifi – just hunker down with your favourite book and soak up the atmosphere.

    South Beach State Park (Budget)

    A popular campsite two miles south of Newport.

    Newport to Astoria ( Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 14)

    3 hours 15 min drive from Newport to Astoria


    The stretch of Oregon Coast between Newport and Astoria is studded with uber-cool towns, nice beaches (when the weather’s warm enough) and lots of beautiful vantage points for you to soak up the Pacific Ocean.

    Astoria itself is a historic city with plenty of easily-accessible hikes and water-sports for you to take advantage of. Seaside and Cannon Beach are two of the better known beaches along this stretch – just watch out, they tend to get pretty busy during the summer months (though that’s not always a bad thing at all).

    Manzanita is one of my favourite little villages along this coast – the small city is a thriving outdoors hub and brimming with great restaurants. It helps that the beach is pretty lovely too.

    Best Things to do Between Newport and Astoria

    • Seaside and Cannon Beach – for summertime beach-bumming and stellar views.
    • Manzanita – A cool (dare I say hipster) village that’s well worth a stop.
    • Astoria – Soak up the history in Oregon’s northern most coastal town.
    • Big Wave Cafe, Manzanita – Hearty and fresh grub served in Manzanita’s friendliest restaurant.
    • The Three Capes detour – take a detour off the 101 to soak up the coastal views on the Three Capes road. It winds its way past Cape Meares, Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout. The road has been under repair in recent years so check the status before you turn off the PCH.

    Best Places to Stay Between Newport + Astoria

    Whale Cove Inn (Luxury)

    You’ve been on the road for weeks now. Splash out and stay in this super-luxury hotel. Suites come with private decks with a jacuzzi and all boast magnificent ocean views.

    Commodore Hotel (Mid-Range)

    A cool hotel in downtown Astoria, the Commodore has been built in the vein of our much-beloved Ace Hotels, with funky decor and friendly staff.

    Nehalem Bay State Park (Budget)

    Bed down in one of Nehalem Bay’s yurts, or pitch up on a RV or tent site. In the morning, simply walk over the dunes and you’re straight onto the beach – perfect for your morning swim.

    Astoria to Olympic National Park ( Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 15)

    2.5 hours from Astoria to Olympic National Park

    It’s the penultimate day of your West Coast USA road trip itinerary. Can you believe it?

    It was over two weeks ago that you set out thinking that you had all the time in the world to wend your way along one of the most famous road-trip routes in the world and now it’s almost over. We’re all sad about it, but you’d better make these last days count.

    What better way to start than crossing over into a new state? You pop over into Washington almost as soon as you leave Astoria – and the Highway 1 dips in and out of the coastline for the last stretch.

    Photo by Max Templeton on Unsplash

    Today is really about getting to and spending at least a bit of time in Olympic National Park. It’s 1406 square miles, so probably a bit too much to see in one day (I know you’re keen but no, that’s just too much).

    The section of Olympic National Park near to Highway 1 is the wildest and the most untamed – Hoh River Rainforest and Lake Quinault are good places to head to as you can camp or find accommodation in both.

    Best Things to do in Northwest Washington

    • La Push Beach – Twilight fans can revel in the knowledge that the vampire/werewolf dramafest were set in La Push. The rest of us can just enjoy the rugged tranquility of the three beaches and small surrounding community.
    • Olympic National Park – far greater than you’re ever going to be able to tackle in a day (or even a year come to think of it), Olympic is the outdoor adventurer’s dream. Plan your trip using the park’s informative website.

    Where to Stay in Olympic National Park

    Lake Quinault Lodge (Luxury)

    One of the classic park lodges of yore, Lake Quinault Lodge offers high-end stays in a memorable setting.

    Quiluete Oceanside Resort

    Take your pick from the luxury cabins, motel rooms or RV sites in this quaint resort just outside of La Push.

    Hoh Visitor Center and Campground

    Very, very basic camping but a great base for exploring the near-mystical Hoh River Rainforest.

    Olympic National Park to Seattle (Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Day 16)

    2 hours drive from Olympic National Park to Seattle (dependent on park location)

    The final day of our Highway 1 road trip itinerary lands us in Seattle. PNW’s biggest hub sits in the shadow of the towering Mt Ranier and is a charming combination of great coffees, trendy places to eat and drink and grungy hangouts.

    If you have a bit more time, Seattle’s a great city to decompress and unwind after your hectic two and a half week trip – otherwise it’s a whirlwind tour of the city and hometime. I hope you’ve had an awesome trip!

    Best Things to do in Seattle

    • Pike Place Market – One of Seattle’s most famous landmarks, Pike Place is a thriving hub of small businesses, pubs, seafood eateries and shopping nooks. Spend an hour or two with no agenda for the full experience.
    • Space Needle – You can’t miss the Space Needle – the recognisable tower that dominates Seattle’s skyline. Fork out the steep price for the observation deck – it’s worth it.
    • Olympic Sculpture Park – The ‘grammer’s dream, Olympic Sculpture Park is bold, arresting and free! Pack a picnic and get snapping.
    • Washington State Ferries – Jump on a Washington State Ferry to get around Puget Sound or just soak in the awesome views from the deck. If you have enough time, get a ferry to Bainbridge Island and spend some time in Winslow, the island’s main town – or strike further out to explore the almost-too-good-to-be-true landscapes.

    Where to Stay in Seattle

    The Edgewater (Luxury)

    (In)famous waterfront hotel where rock-stars and celebrities have stayed and frolicked for several decades.

    Staypineapple at the Maxwell Hotel (Mid-Range)

    One of the best boutique hotels in Seattle with colourful interiors and stellar service.

    Moore Hotel (Budget)

    A hop, skip and not even a jump away from Pike Place, Moore Hotel offers budget digs in a central location.

    Recommended Detours from Your Pacific Coast Highway Trip

    West Coast Road Trip Detour One: Yosemite National Park

    3 hour drive from San Francisco to Yosemite

    The best time to do this detour from Highway 1 is after San Francisco. You can then either add on the second suggested detour (to Sonoma – discussed below) or you can drive from Yosemite to Mendocino and pick up the itinerary from there.

    OK, so now we’re going to tear the rule book up and throw it out of the window (or let it flutter over your head if you have a convertible with the top down).

    Yes, yes, I know that Yosemite isn’t on Highway 1. In fact, it’s a three hour detour away from Highway 1 towards the Nevada border. But, unless you have been and decided never to go again (doubtful), or you are really, really pushed for time (more likely), it would be a real shame to come all this way and not go to Yosemite.

    So pack up the trunk, take the rather dull drive inland and get yourself to Yosemite – I can guarantee you won’t regret it.


    It would actually take a whole other article as long as this one (3,200 words and counting) to cover all the things you can see and do in Yosemite – so I’d suggest having a good look at the National Park Service’s website and my photos to inspire you instead.

    Best Things to do in Yosemite

    • Yosemite Falls
    • Viewpoint from Tunnel View
    • Mariposa Grove – giant sequoia trees.
    • Basically everything you see and do.

    Where to Stay in Yosemite

    Evergreen Lodge (Luxury)

    Originally built in the twenties, Evergreen is just outside the national park boundaries but offers rustic-chic lodging for a high-end stay.

    Big Trees Lodge (Mid-Range)

    It’s a bit of a drive to sights other than the Mariposa Grove, but an affordable and comfortable option.

    Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Lodge (Budget)

    Hippy vibes and friendly owners on the outskirts of Yosemite.

    Upper Pines Campground (Budget)

    Upper Pines is busy but it’s well located, shady and a good base for a short Yosemite stay.

    West Coast Road Trip Detour Two: Sonoma Valley

    Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

    The best time to do this detour is between San Francisco and Mendocino. If you did detour one, your itinerary would be as follows: San Francisco > Yosemite > Napa / Sonoma > Mendocino.

    My second suggested detour from the Pacific Coast Highway is to Sonoma. If you’re anything like me, you love your wine (almost as much as you like the breathtaking views you caught sight of in Yosemite, but not quite).

    You can easily tack on Sonoma to your trip to Yosemite

    We all know that Napa and Sonoma are California’s most revered wine regions, so it makes sense to stop off and have a nose, just while we’re in the area on our West Coast road trip.

    I’ve been to both Napa and Sonoma and preferred the latter’s slightly more casual vibe – you can of course go to both, or neither – whatever takes your fancy.

    Best Things to do in Sonoma

    • WINE. More specifically…
    • Bartholomew Park Winery. The wine is mighty tasty, but the 400-acre nature preserve setting is almost as big a draw. Purchase a bottle or two and head out into the grounds with a picnic.
    • Sonoma Valley Bike Tours. Let’s face it – no one wants to be the designated driver in Sonoma. Book onto a guided tour or hire a bike and set off on your own.
    • Fig Cafe & Winebar. Hearty and delicious food is paired with an extensive local wine list.
    • Benzinger Family Winery. Sample Benzinger’s range of biodynamic wines on one of their popular tours. Reserve in advance.

    Where to Stay in Sonoma

    Farmhouse Inn (Luxury)

    The hefty price tag means the Farmhouse Inn is only a plausible option if you don’t mind splashing on a hotel. Those who do are treated to Michelin-star meals and airy rooms in return.

    Vintner’s Inn (Mid-Range)

    Within a short distance of countless vineyards, Vintner’s Inn is a homely boutique option a few miles out of downtown Santa Rosa.

    Casini Ranch (Budget)

    RV Hookups, a tent campsite and small cabins at affordable prices.

    Other Useful Resources for a West Coast Road Trip

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    Pacific Coast Prize

    Дом для отпуска располагает 2 спальнями, телевизором со спутниковыми каналами, кухней с посудомоечной машиной и ванной комнатой.

    Дом для отпуска Pacific Coast Prize с видом на море расположен на пляже Ваконда, в 28 км от города Ньюпорт.

    Расстояние до Флоренции составляет 45 км. Расстояние от дома для отпуска Pacific Coast Prize до аэропорта Малон-Свит-Филд составляет 75 км.

    Цена номера от 7 912 .

    Адрес: Wakonda Beach, 97498, США

    Количество номеров в отеле: 2

    Наличие мест

    Укажите даты заезда и отъезда для бронирования Pacific Coast Prize:

    Виды номеров в Pacific Coast Prize

    Дом для отпуска с 2 спальнями

    This holiday home features a oven, tumble dryer and microwave.

    Удобства дома: Телевизор, Холодильник, Микроволновая печь, Посудомоечная машина, Ванная комната, Спутниковые каналы, Кухня, Камин, Кухонные принадлежности, Сушильная машина, Духовка, Плита, Вид на море, Вид на горы, Кофемашина

    Отзывы об отеле Pacific Coast Prize

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    Время регистрации гостей (Check-in):


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    American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover

    Guests will receive a rental agreement, which must be signed and returned directly to the property prior to arrival. If the agreement is not received, the guest should contact the property management company at the number on the booking confirmation.
    Please note that only registered guests are allowed at the property.
    Guests shall abide by the property’s policy and shall not engage in illegal activity. Quiet hours are from 22:00 to 8:00.
    Guests must be 21 years or older to check in without a parent or official guardian.
    Guests are liable for any damage to the property that occurs during their stay.

    При регистрации заезда необходимо предъявить действительное удостоверение личности с фотографией и кредитную карту. Пожалуйста, примите во внимание, что выполнение особых пожеланий не гарантировано и может потребовать дополнительной оплаты.

    Пожалуйста, заранее сообщите Pacific Coast Prize предполагаемое время прибытия. Вы можете использовать поле «Особые пожелания» при бронировании, или связаться с объектом размещения напрямую — контактные данные указаны в Вашем подтверждении бронирования.

    Разрешается проживание детей любого возраста.
    Дополнительные кровати в номере не предоставляются.

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    The Oregon Coast

    The Oregon Coast Restaurants

    We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Oregon Coast — browse our top choices for Restaurants during your stay.

    • Astoria
    • Newport
    • Lincoln City
    • Cannon Beach
    • Florence All Filters
    • Astoria
    • Newport
    • Lincoln City
    • Cannon Beach
    • Florence

    1. Restaurant Beck

    Immensely talented chef-owner Justin Wills presents a short but memorable menu of creatively prepared, modern, Pacific Northwest cuisine each. Read More

    2. Stephanie Inn Dining Room

    As diners enjoy a romantic view of Haystack Rock, this luxe hotel’s sophisticated, supremely romantic dining room prepares a new menu nightly. Read More

    3. The Loft Restaurant & Bar

    This hip eatery in Bandon’s Old Town is notable for chef-owner Kali Fieger’s innovative, modern spin on French basics. On the second floor of. Read More

    4. Bay House

    Inside a charming bungalow, this restaurant serves meals to linger over while you enjoy views across sunset-gilded Siletz Bay. The seasonal. Read More

    5. Br > $$ | | American

    In the same complex as the Cannery Pier Hotel, this stylish restaurant has great views of the river and bridge to Washington. Inside, high ceilings. Read More

    6. S > $$$ | | American

    This dining room, set in an old brick and tile factory with a high ceiling, exposed beams, a fireplace, and many windows, shares its space with. Read More

    7. Tables of Content

    The well-plotted prix-fixe menu at the restaurant of the outstanding Sylvia Beach Hotel changes nightly. Chances are that the main dish will. Read More

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    Oregon Coast Tours

    Pacific City (OR), United States

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    Pacific Coast

    Look at other dictionaries:

    Pacific coast — A country s Pacific coast is the part of its coast facing the Pacific Ocean.GeographyThe AmericasCountries on the western s >Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast — noun a coast of the Pacific Ocean • Instance Hypernyms: ↑seashore, ↑coast, ↑seacoast, ↑sea coast • Part Holonyms: ↑Pacific, ↑Pacific Ocean … Useful english dictionary

    Pacific Coast — See North West Coast … The makers of Canada

    Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player Award — Awarded for Pacific Coast League s Regular Season MVP Country United States Reward Charles H. Graham Plaque (formerly a cash reward)[1] … Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast Hellway — was an adult themed podcast hosted by Parsec award winning author, screenwriter Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff from Los Angeles, California. Featuring uncensored comedy and rants, Nemcoff records the show each weekday ins >Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast Professional Football League — Sport American Professional Football Founded 1940 First Season 1940 Last Season 1948 Claim to Fame top level football league on US west coast prior to 1946 … Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast Feather Company — is a Seattle based manufacturer of basic bedding including pillows, comforters, sheets, and feather beds. It is the largest producer of utility bedding in the US and the fifth largest home textile supplier in the US. . [… … Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast Soccer League — Countries Canada Confederation … Wikipedia

    Pacific Coast Hockey Association — Sport Ice hockey Founded 1911 Inaugural season 1912 Country(ies) Canada … Wikipedia

    25 Amazing Stops On A 1-Week Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary

    Post Summary: The Ultimate Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary + All The Stops Along The Way

    The Pacific Coast Highway is considered to be one of the most famous road trip routes in the world!

    It’s not hard to believe either. From the epic rock formations of Washington’s Cape Flattery to natural bridges in Southern Oregon to the winding roads of Big Sur, California, there is always something new to see!

    We had so much fun during this road trip, and we wanted to create this comprehensive guide for iconic stops and places to see all the way up and down the Pacific Coast!

    Berty and I took this trip back in the summer of 2020 and we’re excited to share all the details of our trip, including a road trip packing list, city guides, car camping hacks, and so much more.

    Here, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the best stops to make your Pacific Coast road trip your most epic trip yet!

    The Ultimate Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary

    What is the Pacific Coast Highway?

    The Pacific Coast Highway has many names.

    You can also recognize it by its abbreviation (PCH), California Coast Road Trip, Pacific Coast Road Trip, Route 1, Highway 101 (through Washington and Oregon), or even just Highway 1 (in California).

    All names aside, they all lead you down the same road, which is the one that parallels the Pacific Ocean and the western border of the contiguous United States.

    Get ready for coastal views 24/7, amazing iconic stops, and little beach towns scattered throughout!

    But Where/When Do I Begin? Northbound or Southbound?

    Traditionally, the Pacific Coast Highway is considered to be the entire Highway 1 of the California coast.

    However, people (like us!) have expanded this trip to span the three Pacific Coast states, Washington, Oregon, and California. (Hey, if you’re really adventurous, you could even drive down through Mexico!)

    There are two directions to do a Pacific Coast road trip, driving south or driving north! Honestly, both are great options but being from Seattle, Berty and I began in Washington and made our way south.

    We also began our trip in June, but this trip is good to take any time of year. Driving along the coast, the weather is more constant and usually doesn’t get cold enough to snow.


    However, if you’re looking for the “windows-down, sunsets every night” kind of trip, we recommend taking this drive any time between June-September for the best chance of good weather.

    Pacific Coast Highway Map

    Ready To Make It A Road Trip?

    Here are some of our most popular road trip planner posts to help jumpstart your Pacific Coast Road Trip:

    But What Do I Pack For My Pacific Coast Road Trip?

    A good Pacific Coast Highway road trip will take you through the rainy gloom of Washington, as well as the sunny beaches of California.

    It’s smart to bring a lot of layers and pack slightly on the warmer side for chilly nights of camping.

    Here are some posts we’ve written about what to pack for certain parts of the Pacific Coast Highway:

    Breakdown By State: Highlights of the Pacific Coast Road Trip

    If you’re planning to experience the entire Pacific Coast Highway (including extending it to Oregon and Washington), you probably know that there is an insane amount of stops to take.

    We’re going to break locations down state by state, to give you bite-sized chunks of information for each place.

    Each state provides something unique and exciting for your Pacific Coast Road trip itinerary, so read below for location inspiration in Washington, Oregon, and California!

    Pacific Coast Highway Stops In Washington

    Washington is not all rain and gloom!

    While the movies portray this evergreen state in a constant shroud of clouds and moodiness (Thanks, Twilight), its nothing farther from the truth.

    Here, you can find powerful waterfalls, secret coves, and lush green forest, and amazing hikes in every corner of this beautiful state.

    Keep on reading to read about some highlights along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington!

    Seattle, Washington

    This is where we suggest starting your Pacific Coast road trip. Seattle is a great place to stock up on all the road trip essentials, grab rental cars, and arrive by plane.

    Fun things to do in Seattle, Washington:

    • Visit Pike Place Market
    • Go to the first ever Starbucks Coffee store
    • Visit The Museum of Pop Culture
    • Watch the sunset at Jose Rizal Park
    • See the Space Needle up close at Kerry Park
    • Have a bonfire with friends at Golden Gardens Park
    • Go to A Husky Football game in the University District

    Lake Crescent / Mout Storm King

    If you are starting in Seattle or Vancouver, chances are you’ll need to take a ferry across the Puget Sound to reach the Olympic Peninsula.

    From here, you will pass the cities of Kingston, Sequim, and Port Angeles. Before hitting to Pacific Coast, we recommend taking a stop by Lake Crescent for some classic PNW vibes and maybe a quick lunch break too.

    If you want to see what this lake looks like from above, test your limits and hike Mount Storm King. The 4.7-mile round trip hike gains over 2,000 feet in elevation, including scrambling up the side of a cliff with the help of a few installed ropes.

    This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, but your attempts will be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views on the Olympic Peninsula.

    La Push Beaches (First, Second, and Third)

    You may know these beaches from the movie Twilight but rest assured there are no vampires in sight. (Partly because it’s werewolf territory anyway, DUH) In fact, we’ve seen some of the most incredible sunsets right here on Second Beach.

    When visiting, it’s important to note that there are three beaches to choose from. First Beach provides easy and instant beach access, so it’s a popular choice for families.

    Second Beach requires a hike on a short trail to reach the beach, and you can also camp on this beach. Second Beach is also the most popular option for its beautiful rock formations and vast shoreline.

    Third Beach requires a longer hike and is the least visited of all the beaches.

    Ocean Shores, Washington

    Ocean Shores is a quaint little town on the Washington Coast, just north of Grays Harbor.

    Here, you will find tons of vacation rental homes, small seafood restaurants, and tons of beach activities. Berty and I came with our friends last summer and opted to rent motorbikes on the beach, eat our weight in crab, and explore the jetty!

    Restaurants to try in Ocean Shores:

    Want more beach fun on the Washington Coast? Check out Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach!

    Mount Rainier / Pierce County Area

    Take your journey slightly inland to explore the South Puget Sound and Mount Rainier National Park. Here, you can test your limits and backpack up to the summit (training required!) or simply take a nice stroll at the base of the mountain like on Nisqually Loop Trail.

    Spend some time exploring Gig Harbor and boating around the South Puget Sound. You will be able to spot wildlife all around you, whether it’s jellyfish or a pod of orcas!

    Some of our favorite cities in Pierce County to explore: Puyallup (Washington State Fair), Tacoma, and Gig Harbor!

    Cape Disappointment State Park

    Cape Disappointment is located in the far southwestern corner of Washington State. Here, you can discover miles of trails, play on the beaches, and maybe even spot an orca offshore!

    For a memorable photo opportunity on your Pacific Coast road trip, take the trail down to Deadman’s Cove and capture this hidden beach at sunset!

    Oregon Stops On A Pacific Coast Road Trip

    The Oregon Coast itself is worthy of its own trip but lucky you – you get to see it all and more!

    We’re sharing all the best stops along this part of the Pacific Coast Highway and what you can expect in this beautiful state.

    Not enough time for the whole thing? Take an Oregon Coast Road Trip instead!

    Cannon Beach

    Cannon Beach is a family and dog-friendly beach located 1.5 hours west of Portland. Here, you can explore the many quaint seaside shops, take a walk on the beach, and explore the many tide pools.

    There are many services available here, so it’s a great stop for camping, resting, or even getting a seaside Airbnb! (By the way, you can get $40 off your first reservation at this link!)

    Cape Kiwanda

    Cape Kiwanda is a popular beach on the Oregon Coast. You can drive your car on the beach, host a bonfire, and explore the sand dunes surrounding the area.

    The area of Oregon can be rainy and cloudy year round, but if you’re lucky you can experience one of its gorgeous sunsets (that is if the weather cooperates!). Make sure to pack a rain jacket!

    God’s Thumb Hike, Lincoln City

    The hike to God’s Thumb is a moderately difficult hike along the Oregon Coast. A 4.6-mile round trip hike will bring you to a curved landscape on an oceanside cliff.

    It gets its name “God’s Thumb” because it slightly resembles a thumb…but we think it kind of looks like a soft-serve ice cream swirl!

    Located in Lincoln City, Oregon, this is a perfect place to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and see a beautiful area of the Oregon Coast.

    Devil’s Punchbowl

    Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is a perfect stop on your Pacific Coast road trip. Here, you can experience the power of the ocean slamming and swirling into a carved-out bowl.

    From the top, you can see down inside the “punchbowl”. During high tide, the waves swirl and crash around inside, but during low tide, you can walk down on the beach and explore inside.

    Stay a while for a roadside picnic, to explore tide pools, or climb around on the rocks on the shore.

    Thor’s Well

    Thor’s Well in another one of the Oregon Coast’s amazing natural phenomena. You can experience the most dramatic sights at high tide, but beware – it’s the most dangerous time to visit too.

    Similar to the Spouting Horn in Kauai, this sinkhole looks like water is just draining into a huge abyss, but it’s actually a natural rock tube that sucks and shoots water our according to the adjacent waves.

    Don’t get too close to it though, it pushes and pulls water with a powerful force, meaning if you get too close you risk being swept off your feet into the hole!

    This area is located just south of the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center, with lots of wheelchair accessible walkways AND walk-at-your-own-risk paths too.

    Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

    Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is an amazing spot on the Pacific Coast Highway, and probably home to one of the best photo spots on the PCH!

    For a quick side trip, take the drive up to Cape Perpetua Lookout, where you can see the Oregon Coast meet the winding highway below. It’s an incredible view – make sure to bring your camera!

    This is also a great stop for some camping on the Oregon Coast, as well as exploring the many ocean features and scenic trails in the area.

    (Bonus Side Trip!) Umpqua Hot Springs + Toketee Falls

    Got an extra day to spare?

    Since you’re already in Oregon, consider taking a side trip east to the Cascade Mountains. The Umpqua National Forest has a lot to see, but it’s shining stars have got to be Toketee Falls and the Umpqua Hot Springs.

    Both of the trails to Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs are nearby one another, short, and easy to follow.

    They can be accomplished in a morning or afternoon trip. If you haven’t visited a Pacific Northwest hot springs yet, this is the perfect chance to do it!

    We would suggest that you Visit Toketee Falls first, so you can save your soak for last!

    13. Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

    Of all the stops on the Oregon Coast, Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is a MUST visit. Offshore rock formations, dramatic cliffs, and crashing waves make this place a magical stop on the Pacific Coast Highway.

    To fully experience this area, we suggest scheduling your visit for sunset. The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, and on a clear day the skies light up with beautiful colors.

    There are many hikes to choose from around Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor. Take some time to explore a few (many trails are short), and pick your favorite spots for sunset.

    California

    Congratulations! You’ve made it to California!

    This is technically the beginning of the official Pacific Coast Highway (also called Highway 1), but we all know you’ve put in too many miles on your car and see too much epic-ness for it to be just starting.

    While you’ll be encountering a lot more sunshine in this section of the road trip the northern California coast can be a little temperamental! Don’t put away your rain coast just yet.

    California road trip stops on the Pacific Coast Highway are some of the most breathtaking and beautiful areas of the whole trip. Read on to discover where to go and what to see below in the sunshine state.

    14. Redwood National and State Parks

    If your Pacific Coast Road Trip is taking you southbound, your first California stop will be at the Redwood National and State Parks.

    The Redwoods are known for the spectacularly tall and beautiful trees. Furthermore, this area is home to some of the tallest trees on earth!

    There are several scenic drives to take here, but the prettiest Northern California drives are through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (the scenic route) and the Avenue of The Giants at Humbolt Redwoods State Park.

    15. Black Sand Beach

    Have you been looking at those famous black sand beaches in Iceland? Get a taste of the beauty (without the price of a plane ticket) and come visit a look-alike on the California Coast.

    Shelter Cove is a little town located in the King Range National Conversation Area. Here, there are craggy coastlines, dramatic scenery, and a black sand beach. The waves are tall and powerful here.

    Warning: The road is winding and treacherous, which can be dangerous in bad weather.

    This is also an extremely out-of-the-way detour, with one route going in and out from the beach. Make sure to have a full tank of gas, and be prepared to drive on narrow roads and near tall cliff edges!

    16. Point Reyes National Seashore

    Love the California beach? Explore the Point Reyes National Seashore, a protected coastline of rolling pastures, historic landmarks, and even a secret docked ship!

    Start your journey in the town of Inverness, where you can stock up on food, gas, and even camping gear if you choose to spend the night in one of their many campgrounds.

    Some of the best things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore are visiting the historic lighthouse (make sure to pay attention to its hours of operation!), driving down the canopy of Cypress trees, and even whale watching if you come at the right time of year!

    17. Bolinas Ridge

    If you have a scheduled stop in San Francisco on your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary, make sure to make a sunset stop just north of the city, on Bolinas Ridge.

    This area of golden, glimmering rolling hills is located on the edge of Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, California.

    Our favorite scenic road to drive is Ridgecrest Boulevard, which includes pullouts ever so often to quickly park your car and enjoy the beautiful and consistent sunsets on this piece of the California coast.

    18. Mount Tamalpais

    Keep the spirit of adventure alive, even in a bustling city like San Francisco!

    If you’ve got a pit stop in the Golden City, journey just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and experience Mount Tamalpais State Park for a quick break from city life.

    Here, you can take many amazing trails with stunning views of big city buildings across the bay. Some of our favorite trails for city views are the East Peak Hike (to a stone lookout tower) and the Verna Dunshee Trail.

    Going when it’s cold outside? Read our San Francisco Winter Packing List.

    19. Golden Gate Bridge

    No trip to San Francisco is complete without seeing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge!

    On either side of the bridge, there are several incredible viewpoints to check out. Some of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge are from Battery Spencer, Kirby Cove, and the North Vista Point.

    Remember: The Golden Gate Bridge is a toll bridge. Motorcycles and regular cars will get through and be billed $8.00 to the address your car is registered at.

    20. San Francisco, California

    If you’ve been driving southbound on your Pacific Coast road trip, San Francisco will be the first large city you will encounter.

    Here, you can experience many iconic and famous landmarks. Here are some places to see while in San Francisco:

    • See the sunrise at the Golden Gate Bridge
    • Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
    • Stop By The Painted Ladies
    • Wander through the neighborhoods and see the beautiful Victorian-era houses

    Need a place to stay in San Francisco? Click here and get $40 off your first booking on Airbnb!

    21. Shark Fin Cove

    Shark Fin Cove is a beautiful California coast beach located south of San Francisco – in Davenport, California. It’s named for its rock formation just off the shore that resembling a shark’s top fin.

    You aren’t able to see this cove from the road, which makes finding access a little difficult. There are no signs indicating the location, so you must rely on Google Maps to help guide to you the parking lot off the California Coast Highway 1.

    This place provides absolutely stunning views from above AND below. Start your visit at the top and walk along the trails near the cliffs (but be careful!). Finally, climb down into the cove via a steep trail to find beach access.

    On a weekday, it’s very likely you will get this beach all to yourself!

    22. Big Sur, California

    When you think of driving down the California Coast, Big Sur is the making of dreams. Sunny coastline, winding roads, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful bridges are scattered along 90 miles of this beautiful West Coast drive.

    Some of the highlights on this part of the PCH include:

    • Pfeiffer Beach
    • McWay Falls
    • Bixby Creek Bridge
    • Pebble Beach
    • 17-Mile Drive (Monterey/Pacific Grove)

    Pro Tip: A day trip to Big Sur, California is absolutely the most quintessential activity of any good Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Don’t miss this.

    23. (Detour Off Highway 1) Yosemite National Park

    While you’re in the area, might as well take a little detour to one of the greatest national parks in America!

    Yosemite is home to the tallest waterfall in North America, home to giant Sequoia trees, and has more than 800 miles of trails for hikers to enjoy.

    Only have 24 extra hours to spare for Yosemite? Click here for our 24-hour guide to Yosemite National Park.

    Pro Tip: If you are hoping to spend a few days in the park, make camping reservations extremely early in advance.

    Camping spots generally get full six months before the reservation date. A trip to Yosemite National Park requires a lot of pre-planning.

    24. Los Angeles, California

    Another major city on your Pacific Coast road trip will be Los Angeles California. For many going northbound, this is a common starting point (as well as San Diego).

    If you’re like us and coming to LA on a southbound PCH trip, this is a fun pit stop to take a few days and recharge from all that driving.

    Again, if you are looking to book a place on Airbnb, click here to get $40 off your first booking!

    Here are some fun things to do in Los Angeles:

    • Santa Monica Pier + the Amusement Park on the boardwalk.
    • Venice Beach
    • Griffith Observatory
    • The Getty Museum
    • Hollywood Boulevard
    • Hike to the Hollywood Sign

    25. Orange County, California

    Orange County California is just south of the city of Los Angeles. With a slower lifestyle, less traffic, and a lot more beach space, this place is a perfect getaway for sunshine lovers and surfers alike.

    There are a few opportunities to camp on the coast, like RV sites in Huntington Beach and tent sites at Crystal Cove State Park. Either way, it’s definitely worth it to spend a few days in Orange County and experience all it has to offer!

    Must-see spots in Orange County:

    26. San Diego, California

    San Diego will be the likely the end (or the beginning!) to your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary. Stay tuned for more images of this amazing part of the coast!

    Pacific Coast Road Trip Itinerary Examples

    Wondering if you can see all these iconic landmarks in one trip?

    To accommodate different trip lengths, we’re sharing some example itineraries for a five-day trip, one week trip, and two week trip down the Pacific Coast. Read below to find your perfect one!

    Five Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

    Five days to drive down the Pacific Coast is absolutely doable! During these days, you have time to experience the highlights of the coast, and whet your appetite for another future trip!

    • Day 1: Seattle, WA to Coos Bay, OR
    • Day 2: Coos Bay OR, to Redwood National Park, CA
    • Day 3:Redwood National Park, CA to San Francisco, CA
    • Day 4:San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
    • Day 5:Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA

    One-Week Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

    One week on the Pacific Coast Highway will allow you to see the best of the best! One week is great for travelers who want to fit in the entire trip during a school break, or only have so many days to take off of work.

    A one-week Pacific Coast road trip itinerary will allow you to see the highlights without feeling rushed. Let’s get going!

    Two-Week Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

    If you have two weeks to spare, this is the ideal amount of time for a Pacific Coast road trip!

    Two weeks gives you ample time to see all the highlights, take some day hikes, and even some off-coast detours like Yosemite or Toketee Falls! You will be able to see everything you want and more, and not feel rushed in your process.

    • Day 1: Seattle, WA to Port Angeles, WA
    • Day 2: Port Angeles, to Forks, WA
    • Day 3: Forks, WA to Astoria, OR
    • Day 4: Astoria OR, to Cape Kiwanda, OR
    • Day 5: Cape Kiwanda OR, to Brookings, OR
    • Day 6: Brooking OR, to Redwood State Park, CA
    • Day 7: Redwood State Park, CA to Mendocino, CA
    • Day 8: Mendocino, CA to San Francisco, CA
    • Day 9: San Francisco, CA to Santa Cruz, CA
    • Day 10: Santa Cruz, CA to Big Sur, CA
    • Day 11: Big Sur, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
    • Day 12: Santa Barbara, CA to Los Angeles, CA
    • Day 13: Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA
    • Day 14: End in San Diego

    Some of our Pacific Coast Road Trip Inspiration

    Creating this Pacific Coast road trip itinerary was quite the workload! Lucky for us, this is the kind of work we live for, and it was fun, inspiring, and most of all helpful!

    We hope this helps in your own Pacific Coast Highway trip and makes planning a little bit easier for you.

    Here are some of our pins we’ve created to share with our followers on Pinterest. Feel free to save some too for your own inspirational road trip!

    Pinterest (Find us at @themandagies)

    Thank you to everyone on Instagram and our Facebook page for suggesting so many great stops! We’ve tried our best to include them in our itinerary and are grateful to learn from experienced travelers like you!

    Have you taken a Pacific Coast Road Trip? What were some of your favorite stops?

    Follow Us On Our Social Channels:

    Pinterest: @themandagies (Why yes, we DO have a whole board dedicated to the trip!)

    Ready To Plan Your Own Pacific Coast Road Trip?
    Read These Helpful Posts:

    Want more Pacific Coast road trip inspiration? Follow our curated board on Pinterest!

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    About Emily and Berty

    We’re Berty and Emily Mandagie, the husband and wife duo behind TheMandagies.com. We’re passionate about adventure, photography, and our home in the Pacific Northwest. We share moments and places in the PNW, and how you can experience them too.

    Comments

    So excited for you guys! My hubby and I did a similar (but quicker, so we didn’t see everything) trip in the summer of 2010 (a LONG time ago!). It was amazing. There is an amazing hike in Redwood National Park (Gold Bluffs Beach Section) that leads down to this secret beach. Even in summer (August) there wasn’t anyone on the trail. We were pretty new to the “planning” travel business so didn’t really plan anything when we went, but this hike was a highlight of our trip. I’m dying to go to the Painted Hills and Hot springs so excited to see what you guys think. Have so much fun. We’re secretly living through both of your photographs and blogs dreaming of our move one day back to this beautiful region of the world. We love Ireland, but the PNW truly can’t be beat.

    Hi Danielle! I’m so glad you like our photographs and blog! That means so much to us �� I’m so intrigued about the Gold Bluffs Beach Hike in the Redwoods. Now we need to go back and do that one.

    We’re Berty and Emily Mandagie, husband and wife travelers, photographers, and journalists! This blog lives to inspire outdoor adventure, inspired by our home in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Join us in saying YES to new hikes, fresh perspectives, and living life outside with the people you love most!

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