Wondering how to plan a west coast road trip? Whether you’re thinking about taking a short, 4-day west coast road trip or longer, you’ll have a blast in this part of the country.
We’ve rounded up 4 of the best west coast road trip stops to make along your drive so all you need to do is stock up on snacks, pack the bags and get ready for a fun-filled west coast trip adventure.
WEST COAST ROAD TRIP ITINERARY IDEAS
There are over 1,500 miles of coastline between Southern California and Washington State. If you’re planning a road trip to rediscover America's West Coast, here are some must visit stops along the way.
Big Sur, California:
For those truly looking to get away from city dwelling, Big Sur offers an enchanting and rustic escape, creating the perfect place to disconnect from it all. Unlike other destinations, the drive from Monterey to Big Sur is alluring in itself, as you’ll be surrounded by continuous ocean scenery and dramatic cliffsides (it will make you feel as if you’re in Ireland or Scotland).
One of the first landmarks that you’ll encounter is the Bixby Creek Bridge, which some of you may recognize from the HBO hit show, Big Little Lies. It is known for its stunning backdrop and unique design and provides the perfect spot take to take your first photo along the way. Tip: Before crossing the bridge, park on the side of the road to capture the best shot.
Continuing along Highway 1, prepare to make a stop at the iconic McWay Falls. This stunning 80-foot waterfall drops from a steep cliff heading straight into a pristine cove. The turquoise water and rocky cliffs, provide yet another gorgeous photo-op for the books.
If you’re craving something to eat along the way, Big Sur Bakery is a must visit according the locals. Their cheddar and chive scones are incredible!
Perhaps the most alluring component of the area has to be a hike through the redwoods especially as the afternoon light filters through. You can view these incredible trees in the four state parks in the area; Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Limekiln State Park.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona:
Ready for a family adventure? Pack up your car and head out to the Grand Canyon. The Summer time is a great time to take the kids, especially as they will be out of school.
While there are many places to visit within the Canyon, the South Rim is typically the most popular, especially with families as it’s easy to explore. If you’re looking for a day hike, the South Kaibab Trail provides wonderful views along the way and is pretty manageable to do with the kids, in comparison to the other hikes in the area, just make sure to pack water!
If you’re kids aren’t up for a hike, take them on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, where they can capture the perfect views from up above. The good news is, no matter where you are, you’ll always get a scenic view.
Golden Gate Overlook, San Francisco:
Located on the southwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge, this overlook is the perfect pit stop by car to take in the iconic view of the bridge. Pro Tip: Pack a picnic lunch and sit in the back of your trunk to enjoy a meal with a view!
If you have more time, head to the Golden Gate Overlook's viewing area located off Lincoln Boulevard and park your car. Get out and stretch and enjoy the views from this curved concrete plaza that hugs the edge of the coastal bluff. Take a seat on one of the wooden benches while surrounded by gorgeous coastal sights and lovely native flora.
Olympic National Park, Washington:
Named for Mount Olympus, the Olympic National Park has been deemed to be the ‘home of gods’ thanks to its lush landscapes and Olympic mountain range. With over a million acres and over 70 miles of wild coastline, this spot provides a great escape to explore the outdoors.
- When to go: June through September are the busiest time of the year, so make sure to make your camp reservations early!
What to do:
- Long Strip of Beaches along the Pacific Ocean waterfront: These beaches provide the perfect setting for scenic walks, tide pool explorations, and exciting storm watching. For those adventurous enough to brave the waves, surfing is also available.
- Visit the Hoh Rain Forest: Located on the west side of Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rain Forest is one of the park’s most popular destinations, thanks to its enchanting green canopy of trees.
- Hurricane Ridge: This mountain area is one of the easiest to access and provides scenic vista views throughout the year.
No matter which of the 4 awesome west coast tour ideas you decide to take first, whether you’re traveling with kids, friends, a significant other or solo, you’ll have a blast. Be sure to travel in style with a BR bag. Find the perfect bag for your road trip at Briggs and Riley.