The gorgeous Pacific and beautiful mountains lead to amazing West Coast road trips!
From bustling sunny beaches, lush forests, and sand dunes to gorgeous rocky shores, the west coast offers something for everyone to enjoy. Read on for some beautiful places to put on your travel plans in California, Oregon, and Washington.
You can also find some of the best food and museums the west coast has to offer!
15 Most Scenic West Coast Road Trips & Destinations
Perhaps it's your dream to take a long, meandering RV trip up the entire west coast. Or, if you are not in a position to do that, you might be thinking about visiting different sections at different times.
Whatever you want to do, we have compiled a list of the 11 most scenic west coast road trips.
West Coast Road Trips: California
From the bustling beaches in the south to the cooler, rockier coastline in the north, and worthy road trip stops in between, California has something to offer everyone.
Here's our compilation of the best west coast road trips in California:
Starting in Dana Point, just south of Los Angeles, Highway 1 hugs the coastline for more than 655 miles, offering views and interesting stops all along the way.
I have outlined some of the best stops you might want to consider if driving this stretch of California highway:
Between the major metropolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco, lies Ventura and Santa Barbara. While Ventura has a more laid-back surfer vibe, Santa Barbara is a bit more formal. These two cities are uniquely different but offer many activities to keep visitors busy.
For beachfront RV camping in Ventura, try Faria Beach Park, which offers stunning views of the Channel Islands.
If you decide to stay put in this area for a few days, think about taking a day trip over to Solvang. This “little slice of Denmark” has a lot to offer from wine tasting to delicious Danish bakeries.
Further up Highway 1, you will find Big Sur, a rugged coastline with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Known as “mini Yosemite” and situated on Big Sur River, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers 1,000 acres of hiking and wildlife beneath the breathtaking Coastal Redwood trees. These trees are only found on the west coast, from Big Sur to southern Oregon.
While in the area, you might want to consider a visit to Hearst Castle to see the late William Randolph Hearst’s incredible estate, featuring amazing pools and unparalleled views of the San Simeon area. After the tour, take a break at the Hearst Ranch Winery to taste some local wine, located just minutes from the museum entrance.
As you travel further north, you will enter the Fort Bragg area where you won’t want to miss the southern beach of MacKerricher State Park called Glass Beach. It gets its name from smooth colorful glass pieces that are mixed into the pebbly beach from a long-gone trash dump that transformed broken bottles into beach treasure.
The Giant Redwoods
When traveling through northern California, it would be difficult to miss the towering Coastal Redwoods, native to this area. Growing on the coast only from Big Sur in the south to southern Oregon in the north, these gorgeous trees grow to heights of 300-350 feet.
Here are some of the best spots to experience the giant Redwoods of California:
Take a drive on the 31-mile Avenue of the Giants, called the “finest forest drive in the world.”
Stop and stretch your legs at the unique Trees of Mystery, which features a gondola SkyTrail that glides you through the forest canopy and the Redwood Canopy Trail made from aerial netted suspension bridges connecting the majestic Redwoods.
From Crescent City, head inland on the 199 for about nine miles. There, you will find the breathtaking Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Take a hike through the redwoods, a scenic drive on Howland Hill Road, or fish, snorkel, or kayak in the Smith River.
About four and a half hours northeast of Eureka is Mt. Shasta, a town just outside of Redding named after its central feature, an awe-inspiring mountain over 14,000 feet tall.
Known for its outdoor activities like fishing, cycling, skiing, and wildlife watching, consider staying at the quiet and quaint McBride Springs Campground situated on the lower slopes of Mt. Shasta.
Or, you might want to stay just south of Mt. Shasta in the small town of Castle Crags. Castle Crags State Park features incredible 6,000-foot tall granite spires, while just outside the park is the Railroad Park Resort where you can dine in a train car.
You may also want to check out this article: Five Top California National Parks for your Bucket List
West Coast Road Trips: Oregon
While California has beautiful spots, it's not the only western state that does. Oregon has gorgeous and unique coastlines, and several worthy inland road trips to take.
Check out these noteworthy west coast road trips:
Head inland to Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, featuring a deep water lake inside of a sleeping volcano. The clear, deep-blue lake was formed 7,700 years ago after a violent volcanic eruption. It’s awe-inspiring, to say the least!
Marked with rock spires and formations, dunes and lush forests, Oregon’s coast is unique and beautiful. You can expect lots of greenery and lush forests in these West Coast road trips.
Known not only for its rocky spires and offshore rock formations, Bandon is a beautiful stretch of Oregon coastline that is home to abundant sea birdlife.
You might want to consider staying at Bullards Beach State Park which offers ample hiking and houses a lighthouse at the end of its beach.
Don’t miss the Oregon Dunes, which dominate the coastline for over forty miles.
Do you love ice cream? Or is cheese-tasting more up your alley? Stop for lunch at the Tillamook Creamery and to take a look behind the scenes at their factory.
If dairy does not satisfy your food craving, try fresh seafood or a craft beer from the North Coast Food Trail, featuring places from the entire North Coast of Oregon.
Then take in “Terrible Tilly,” the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse before driving further north.
Are you a fan of the Goonies? Check out the filming locations in this most northern coastal town.
Gritty and edgy, this town also features many historical attractions including the 1906 shipwreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park.
West Coast Road Trips: Washington
Home to mysterious volcanoes and lush green forests, Washington state has many interesting places to explore.
Here are two of our favorite west coast road trips in Washington state:
Both beautiful in their own ways, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens are sights to see.
Mt. Rainier, towering over 14,000 feet above sea level offers gorgeous views and outdoor activities, while Mt. St. Helens is home to a museum overlooking and memorializing the site of the incredible 1980 eruption.
Set in the majestic San Juan islands, horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island is not to be missed. This green paradise offers art and culture, pristine lakes, lush forests, and endless outdoor adventure.
If you want to take a break from your west coast road trips, you can try out Oceanfront Camping at Quinault Casino in Washington.
Whether you have a weekend or months to travel, there is no shortage of gorgeous and interesting west coast road trips to take throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. Please share your favorite experiences on the West Coast in the comments below.
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